(written from a Production point of view)
Kes's telepathic and latent psychokinetic powers begin to grow rapidly while Voyager's newest crewmember, the former Borg drone Seven of Nine, deals with her new individuality.
Cargo Bay 2 has been de-assimilated, except for five Borg alcoves which remain. Regenerating in one of them is the former Borg drone Seven of Nine. Captain Kathryn Janeway, Lieutenant Tuvok, and The Doctor enter the bay and walk up to her. The Doctor reports that her Human physiology is quickly reasserting itself but is warring against the Borg implants. He is unsure which side will win in the end. Remarking that it is time to tell her what has happened to her, Janeway orders her awakened.
Upon waking from regenerating Seven is greatly distressed to find that she can no longer hear the Collective. When Janeway explains that her link to the Collective was severed, she angrily demands to be returned to the Borg. Janeway refuses and tries to engender in her an appreciation for her newfound individuality. She promises to help her through the transition, guiding her back to life as a Human.
Seven demands that if Janeway will not return her to the Borg, she wishes to be left on the nearest planet with a subspace transceiver, to contact them herself. Janeway responds that it is too late for that as she progressed too far in the resurgence of her Human systems and needs medical care. As if to confirm this, a searing bolt of pain shoots through her head; an implant there is being rejected and must be removed at once. She demands The Doctor suppress her Human immune system but he tells her the same thing Janeway did: the process has progressed too far.
"NO!" she shouts angrily, lashing out. "We are Borg! WE ARE BORG!" Janeway and Tuvok restrain her and The Doctor sedates her. Janeway looks at Seven with compassion and uncertainty.
Seven of Nine is again in sickbay. The Doctor scans her head, acknowledging the implant that is being rejected and quickly formulates a plan on how to proceed in removing it. But as he moves around the bed, he bumps into Tuvok. Despite his angry protestations that he is in the way, Tuvok refuses to leave, implacably responding that Seven is a security risk. The Doctor insists that this is not so while she is unconscious and not able to go anywhere and asks Tuvok to get out of the surgical bay. Tuvok simply backs away a few steps. Exasperated, The Doctor returns his attention to Seven of Nine.
He tells Kes to anesthetize her cranial nerves in preparation for the operation. Kes turns toward the hypospray on a table away from her and the device flies into her hand to The Doctor's amazement. Kes herself looks rather startled. She explains, as Tuvok, who saw the feat, comes toward them, that she simply looked at the hypospray and it came to her. Tuvok inquires if she has been experimenting with her psychokinetic abilities. She tells him that she has not but has been feeling rather strange of late, having a lot more energy and less sleep than usual.
The Doctor scans her and reports that her brain's telepathic centers are being hyper-stimulated. He also notes, with alarm, that they are acting just as they were when Species 8472 was communicating with her. Tuvok immediately asks her if they are doing so again but she says no. He hypothesizes that she is simply experiencing an after-effect of that contact. The Doctor promises to examine her fully but right now they have to see about Seven of Nine. They get back to work, as Tuvok watches.
Janeway is seated at her desk in her ready room, reading something on her desktop monitor while sipping coffee. Commander Chakotay enters and gives her a status report: two teams are working round the clock to remove the Borg armor from the hull but progress is slow; Lt. jg B'Elanna Torres is having difficulty cleaning out the plasma relays, so warp drive is currently unavailable. He relays her request for all crew members with a level 3 engineering rating or higher to help. Janeway grants the request. On the tactical side, he reports that the long-range sensors have detected the transwarp signatures of Borg vessels that passed by recently. Janeway notes this as Voyager is not yet beyond the danger of being found and assimilated.
Talk of the Borg segues into talk of Seven of Nine. Janeway considers that former drone could help them with the removal of the Borg modifications. Chakotay does not believe she will be willing to but Janeway disagrees, believing she will, if only she can reach her. She shows him what she was reading on her monitor, it is the data file of the Human who Seven of Nine used to be. The file cites her name as Annika Hansen. It further states her parents were scientists and explorers but did not want to work under Starfleet. They, with their daughter, were last recorded as being in the Omega sector. They left without filing a flight plan, heading in the direction of the Delta Quadrant and were never heard from again.
Chakotay again notes that Seven was assimilated as a child and raised by the Borg. They are all she knows and getting her to embrace her Humanity may prove impossible. Janeway insists on trying however, as they have no choice. She states that, "tossing her back to the wolves" is out of the question. The Doctor then calls her to sickbay.
In sickbay, The Doctor begins removing the rejected implant. He gives it to Kes to put in storage and suggests to Tuvok that he can lock it down with a force field as a safety measure. Tuvok agrees and leaves to do so with Kes, as Janeway enters. The Doctor concernedly tells her that Seven of Nine's Human physiology is now reasserting itself even more aggressively. Her exo-plating and implants are all being rejected – her life is in danger. To save her, they must be removed. But this causes an ethical dilemma for him as she would certainly not want them removed and he is obligated to respect that. He asks for Janeway's input.
Janeway silently considers the point but decides that even though she was raised by the Borg to think like a Borg, beneath the Borg technology, she is Human, whether she is ready to accept that or not. Until she is ready to accept that fact, someone has to make her decisions for her. She orders The Doctor to continue with the procedure. He acknowledges and, as Janeway leaves, returns to the job of removing the first rejected implant.
He calls Kes to assist him and decides on the next implant to begin removing, after this current one. Suddenly Seven of Nine begins to convulse. A console beeps an alarm. He rushes to it to see what the problem is and finds that she is going into neural shock, though he cannot find the source. He orders Kes to try to stabilize her, naming the device to use. But Kes stands rooted, her eyes focused intensely on the former drone.
The Doctor tensely repeats his instruction but she tells him to wait because she can literally see the problem (with the colliculi). A Borg implant attached to her trochlear nerve is causing the shock. Astonished, he asks her if she can tell him how to remove it without severing the nerve. Kes does more than tell him and removes it herself, using her psychokinetic powers. The implant is seen being plucked off the nerve as if by an invisible hand, then disintegrated. The Doctor, scanning, reports that the implant is deteriorating, then it is gone. Seven of Nine stabilizes immediately. The Doctor congratulates her on her 'unconventional but effective' surgical procedure.
In sickbay, The Doctor proudly shows Janeway the ocular implant he has developed to replace Seven of Nine's Borg eyepiece. He is particularly pleased with how perfectly it matches her organic eye. Janeway is impressed and asks to see her, which he agrees to. While he goes to get a hypospray to revive Seven, Janeway talks to Kes about her blossoming abilities. She reports feeling extremely energetic and focused, noting that her telepathic abilities have never been so potent. Tuvok, still present because of Seven of Nine, cautions that her psychokinetic abilities are untrained and thus unpredictable. He recommends taking her through a series of guided meditations to help her discover the limits of these abilities. Janeway agrees and Kes is very enthusiastic to get started. They head for Tuvok's quarters immediately with Janeway's leave.
Janeway and The Doctor watch Seven of Nine slowly wake up. Much of her exo-plating has been removed, as well as many of her cranial implants. All that is left of her eyepiece is its attachment around her orbital socket and its visual mechanism in her eye socket. Her skin now has only traces of the pale gray coloration; it is mostly now a shade within the usual range of Human dermal pigmentation. She sits up and looks at herself and is horrified by what has been done to her.
Looking up, her gaze falls on Janeway. She gets off the table and strides up to her. Through gritted teeth, she tells Janeway she should have let "them" die because "this drone" cannot survive outside the Collective. The Doctor happily begs to differ and begins to proudly elucidate on how her Human systems are thriving. But before he can explain further, Janeway looks at him to be quiet. His mouth closes in mid-sentence and he leaves them alone.
Janeway again tries to reach an understanding with Seven. Janeway tells her she is trying to understand what she is going through and that she is obviously frightened and in pain. Seven of Nine retorts that Janeway is an individual who cannot understand what it means to be Borg. Janeway agrees but tells her she can imagine: Seven was part of a vast collective consciousness of trillions of minds joined as one, without any indecision or disputes – the ultimate example of unified will and strength. She sympathizes with her for having lost that. This reaches Seven somewhat. She laments the silence in her mind, insisting that she needs that collective voice. Janeway seizes the opportunity, telling Seven she is now part of a Human collective. She insists that Seven can find some of the unity she needs among the crew. They are individuals but they work together as a unit.
She watches intently as Seven of Nine considers her argument. But Janeway's hopes are dashed when she responds that this is insufficient. Janeway ends her effort for now, simply insisting it will have to do. Seven is ordered to assist in engineering to remove the Borg modifications to Voyager, which are preventing the ship's warp drive from functioning.
In engineering, Torres is working with her staff, assisted by Ensign Harry Kim, to try to get the warp drive online. They have finished cleaning the plasma intake manifolds of Borg technology and are ready to try to restart the warp core. They begin and the reactor begins to hum as the matter and antimatter react with each other. The power level begins to rise but then, once again, it stalls. A scan indicates the problem is caused by two intake manifolds: despite having already been cleaned once, they are again blocked. Torres, in frustration, compares the offending Borg technology to weeds: you think you've got them all but then, seemingly from nowhere, they spring up again.
Just then, Janeway and Seven of Nine enter, accompanied by a security officer. Immediately Seven of Nine informs them they have neglected to remove the autonomous regeneration sequencers, Borg devices that regenerate other Borg technology should it be tampered with. Janeway introduces her again to Kim and Torres and informs them of the reason for Seven's presence. Torres at once directs Seven to start with the plasma intakes. She begins telling her where they are but Seven rudely finishes her sentence, describing the location and telling Torres, "We fully recall the engineering specifications of your vessel".
Torres, immediately put off, comes right up to her face and angrily asks her if she remembers what it looked like before she "turned it into a Borg circus". Seven of Nine responds affirmatively, returning her glare. Janeway intercedes, ordering them to get to work. Torres acknowledges the order as Seven of Nine follows.
Tuvok and Kes are in the Vulcan's quarters, beginning the first of his suggested guided meditation lessons. Using the flame of his lit meditation lamp, he trains her to practice controlling her psychokinesis by having her psychokinetically strengthen and weaken the flame, altering the combustion at the subatomic level. Things proceed well and he is ready to move on to something else. But she tells him to wait; by maintaining her concentration on the flame, she can see it beyond the subatomic level.This is incomprehensible to him because known science dictates that there is nothing beyond the subatomic. But she insists that there is and she can see it. Concerned, he suggests stopping. She insists on continuing, wanting to try to control this unknown level of reality. Her eyes stare at the lamp and, as Tuvok watches, it begins to warp and jiggle, as if something living were moving beneath its surface. It then returns to normal and Kes looks at him triumphantly. He looks back at her, amazed.
In engineering, Torres shows Seven a Borg linkage in a wall panel and cites them as causing the blockage in the plasma intakes. She complains that they reappear every time they are removed. Seven identifies it as one of the autonomous regeneration sequencers. Kim, impressed, asks her how the Borg came up with this technology. She responds that it was assimilated from a species they designated 259. Torres, however, is neither impressed nor interested in how the Borg got it. She impatiently demands Seven show her how to remove them. Seven outlines the procedure and Torres directs her and Kim to a plasma intake control in a Jefferies tube access room, to remove the sequencers installed there.
Kim and Seven of Nine enter the access room. A security officer waits outside. As they work at an open circuit panel, Kim tries to make conversation with her. He is ignored, until he asks her about the area of space Species 259 is native to. She coldly responds that it is beyond his comprehension. He insists, so she tells him about it but it is beyond his comprehension. He sheepishly withdraws and goes to another panel to work. But as she works, the imager from her removed eyepiece sees something in the circuit panel normal Human eyes cannot: the tiny labeling of a Starfleet communications node among the panel's circuitry.
She calls Kim back to assist her and, as he comes, she backhands him so hard that she knocks him right out of the room, into the security officer. She then shuts the door. At the bridge's conn station, Lt. jg Tom Paris alerts Janeway of an unauthorized attempt to access the ship's subspace transmitter. Janeway instantly knows who it is and knows if she succeeds, they are doomed. At once, she alerts security, who immediately converge on the room, along with Torres. But they discover she has put a Borg force field over the door, so they cannot touch it, let alone try to open it. On the bridge, Janeway orders Chakotay to disable the transmitter. But it is too late as she has access to it.
In Tuvok's quarters, Kes suddenly senses that something is wrong. She probes the sensation and telepathically sees Seven as she attempts to use the transmitter to contact the collective. She tells Tuvok, who immediately heads for the door to Engineering. But Kes stops him, saying she believes she can stop her. Her eyes get a far-away look as she concentrates. Seven, in the room, suddenly hears a strange noise. She looks to her right and goes wide-eyed as she watches a part of the wall begin to warp and wobble, as if there were something moving under it.
The distortion moves toward her until it moves into the circuit panel she is in front of. A bolt of energy flashes forth from the panel, striking her in the chest. She is thrown back and lands unconscious on the floor. In his quarters, Tuvok hails the bridge and asks for a status report. Janeway responds that a strange explosion occurred in the Jefferies tube access room where Seven of Nine was, stopping her before she could send the transmission; they do not know what it was. Tuvok, looking at Kes, responds that he thinks he has the answer.
Janeway and Tuvok walk down a corridor toward the brig, where Seven of Nine has been placed. He has two pieces of bad news for her. First, Seven of Nine did manage to send a partial signal, possibly enough for a Borg ship to track. Second, Kes' act that stopped Seven, destabilized the access room at the molecular level and the effect weakened the hull structure throughout the entire deck. Kes wants to explore her abilities further but Tuvok is concerned that that would not be safe, for her or the ship.
They arrive at the brig. Janeway has Tuvok wait at the door while she goes to Seven of Nine's holding cell. The former drone is pacing up and down inside like a caged tiger. She turns to Janeway, stares at her and lashes out at her: "So, this is Human freedom." But Janeway says that she is not angry, just disappointed. She really thought Seven was willing to help them. Seven responds that she did intend to help but she saw a chance to contact the Collective and took it. She insists to Janeway that her attempts to "assimilate this drone" will fail. She can change 'their' physiology but not 'their' nature. "We are Borg," she insists. Janeway sees that this is not the right time to attempt to reach her and merely responds that she has met Borg who were de-assimilated. In time, they accepted their return to individuality and so will she.
Seven of Nine, however, considers this: individuality means choices, including the choice to return to the Collective if she so wishes. She asks Janeway if she will allow her to do that. Janeway attempts to avoid a direct answer but Seven correctly assumes the answer is "No." She angrily calls her hypocritical, imprisoning 'them' in the name of Humanity, yet denying 'them' the most basic Human right of choosing one's fate.
Janeway firmly responds that she does not have that right, as she is unable to make rational choices. The Borg took that ability from her the moment they assimilated her. Until she is convinced she has re-developed it, she will make that choice for her: Seven will stay on Voyager. Seven responds that Janeway is then no different from the Borg. Janeway stares at her silently as Seven turns and walks towards the back of the cell.
In the mess hall Neelix is treating Kes to a glass of her favorite Talaxian champagne. They have not had a moment with each other since they ended their relationship months before. He sees her burgeoning mental powers as something to celebrate as she has always wanted to be something more than what she was. They talk about their former relationship, and he inquires about what is happening to her. With quiet excitement, she explains it to him, telling that it is as if she is now able to see into a place where the distinction between matter, energy and thought no longer exists.
Neelix is amazed. She further elucidates that merely by looking at an object, she can see the space between the atoms of its matter being filled with something else; something unknown. As she speaks, she begins to stare at the table and as Neelix watches, it begins to warp and jiggle. He becomes very alarmed, rising and asking her to stop. She says no, but the lapse in concentration allows the effect to get out of control. It reaches Neelix and throws him backward, hard. Horrified, Kes rushes to him but, halfway there, falls to her knees, dazed.
On the bridge, Kim reports strange energy readings coming from the deck the mess hall is on. Janeway hails Neelix but gets no response. Kim further reports that the bulkheads in that section are coming apart. Chakotay orders him to increase the deck's structural integrity field. Janeway motions to Tuvok to accompany her and they head for the turbolift.
They arrive at the mess hall to an unnerving sight. Kes is on her knees, a beatific smile on her face, looking upward, hands upward expansively. Her upper body is glowing with an ethereal light, shifts between translucence and opaqueness. Neelix stares, dumbfounded. The phenomenon ends and she slumps down. The officers and Neelix exchange concerned looks before going to her aid.
Kes has been taken to sickbay. In his office, The Doctor reports on her condition to Janeway and Tuvok, saying that he has run every conceivable diagnostic test but cannot figure out what is happening to her, or how to stop it. Tuvok informs them that the ship's sensors indicate that her body actually destabilized at the subatomic level and then re-stabilized. The Doctor concernedly points out that the next time it happens it may not re-stabilize, something has to be done. Janeway orders Tuvok to increase power to the ship's structural integrity field, to avoid a possible hull breach should it happen again.
She then advises The Doctor that this is now beyond medical science. Particle physics is now involved and perhaps an answer as to how to treat Kes can be found there. He agrees and decides to check the relevant database on the subject. Janeway instructs him to keep her informed. She leaves and he goes out to speak to Kes, who is sitting on a bio-bed. He tells her that, until he can come up with another diagnostic procedure, she can return to her quarters. However, she responds that she would like to stay for a while and help with the research, and because she misses him, not having seen much of him over the last few days. He smiles and agrees.
In the brig, Seven of Nine paces slowly in her cell. She stops and stares at the entrance. Her face is filled with anger and frustration. With enraged yells, she repeatedly throws herself at the force field that seals the entrance, startling Ensign Ayala, the officer on duty. He hails the captain, telling her she needs to come immediately.
Janeway arrives and finds a very different Seven of Nine from before. She is no longer defiant but stoop-shouldered, defeated and anguished. With her head down, heartbroken, she quietly mutters that her designation, "Seven of Nine", is now irrelevant. The others are gone. "I am...one," she finishes sadly. Janeway, with genuine sympathy and concern, agrees with Seven that she is indeed now one. "But I cannot function this way! Alone!" Seven of Nine laments with a sob.
Janeway assures her she is not alone, she will help her. Seven desperately responds that, if this is true, she will not do this to her. She pleads to be taken back to her own kind. Janeway insists that she is already among her own kind: Humans. "I don't remember being Human. I don't know what it is to be Human!" she cries out.
Janeway picks up a PADD on the brig console and proceeds to deactivate the force field. Seven of Nine threatens to kill her if she comes in. Janeway stares at her and tells her she does not believe that. The field shuts off and she enters. Ensign Ayala moves to follow her in but Janeway signals him to remain outside. He does, covering her with his phaser. She slowly approaches Seven and holds out the PADD to her. On it is an image of a smiling young girl. In a quiet, wistful voice, Janeway tells Seven the child's name: Annika Hansen. She speaks about the child, asking questions intended to bring up long-buried memories, while drawing closer to her. Janeway asks questions about her siblings, her friends and her favorite color.
Seven of Nine stares at the image for several seconds. "Irrelevant!" she suddenly shouts, slapping the PADD out of Janeway's hand. She again pleads to be taken back to the Borg. Janeway quietly, but firmly, responds that she cannot do that.
Seven bends over as if sick, sobbing and gasping, holding her head, bemoaning the silence in her mind. "So... quiet! One voice...!" she wails. Janeway responds with conviction that one voice can be stronger than a thousand voices. Seven's mind, she stresses, is independent now, with its own unique identity. Seven accuses Janeway of forcing that identity upon her that it is not her identity. Janeway forcefully responds that it is her identity. She tells her that she now has back what the Borg stole from her, her existence.
Seven yells out that she doesn't want to live that kind of life. Janeway urges not to resist turning away from her Borg identity. Seven retorts that she won't and swings wildly at Janeway, catching her in the midsection. Janeway's mouth goes wide with pain but she catches Seven of Nine as the former drone nearly falls down from the force of her swing. She helps her to the cell's bunk as Seven begins to cry. Even with the pain from Seven's punch, Janeway holds onto her shoulders, sitting behind her, comforting her as she weeps with the agony of what she has lost and the fear of what she has gained. She has finally reached her.
Kes is in her quarters, waiting for Janeway. She has come to a decision. Janeway enters and sits with her. Smiling gently, Kes tells her that she has been thinking about all that's happened and now knows that the time has come for her to leave Voyager. She wants to further explore what is happening to her but she cannot do that on Voyager as it could destroy the ship and all aboard.
Janeway is stunned by Kes' decision, this was the last thing she was expecting Kes to say when she was hailed. She desperately tries to convince her to stay, telling her that The Doctor is already working on a new approach to treating her. Kes responds that her condition is not an illness but a transformation, and she has to explore it. Janeway, close to tears, knows her mind is made up. In a breaking voice, she tells her how much she will miss her. They embrace warmly.
Suddenly Kes begins to fade in and out, as she did in the mess hall. "It's starting," she announces. At once, Janeway hails the bridge and orders Chakotay to have a shuttle prepared for launch and for Tuvok to meet her. She tells them what is happening: Kes is leaving them. Chakotay and the bridge officers are as stunned as Janeway but he acknowledges, as Tuvok heads for the turbolift.
Janeway and Kes move quickly along the corridor, heading for the shuttle bay. Janeway helps Kes along but it soon becomes obvious they will not make it. Her body's molecules begin to destabilize again, this time permanently. Electronic panels and components, affected by her power, explode in the wake of their passage. Janeway tries to have a site-to-site transport done to take them directly to the shuttle bay but Kim reports that Kes' destabilizing molecules prevent the transporter from locking on. With no choice but to continue on foot, they hurry.
The ship's hull is seen to be warping and shaking. On the bridge, Paris reports that the hull is destabilizing on a molecular level. Tuvok meanwhile, steps out of a turbolift near the shuttle bay and meets Janeway and Kes in the corridor. Kes desperately tells him she cannot keep going. He mind-melds with her to help her stave off the transformation for just a bit longer. The meld succeeds but the effect will not last long and he urges Janeway to hurry with her.
On the bridge, Kim reports hull breaches on three decks. Chakotay orders him to deploy emergency containment fields. Janeway hails, informs them Kes is aboard the shuttle and orders the launch sequence started. Chakotay acknowledges and a shuttle is seen speeding out from the shuttle bay and away from the ship. Janeway and Tuvok return to the bridge. She asks Kim if he can hail her; he responds he has been trying. But then it no longer becomes necessary; Kes contacts them. "It's happening" she tells them. Kim reports her atomic structure is completely destabilizing. On the shuttle, a joyous smile is on Kes' face as her body fades, for the final time.
Just before she, and the shuttle, fade completely in an explosion of white light, she says one more thing to them:
"My gift to you."
Voyager begins to tremble. Torres hails the bridge from engineering and reports the warp core is again online. But she is shocked when she checks the matter/antimatter efficiency. It is going at 120%, far beyond what the core was ever built to produce. Voyager is seen going to warp speed...and then even faster, faster than any Federation starship could possibly go. On the bridge, Paris cannot even name the warp factor at which they are traveling. Kim tensely reports the ship is coming apart.
This continues for several more seconds and then, suddenly, it slows down, dropping back to impulse. Paris reports that they have dropped out of "whatever it was we were in." Janeway orders an on-screen view of their location. She asks Paris where they are. He reports, incredibly, that they are 9.5 thousand light years from where they were. The bridge officers are speechless. It is Janeway who, with a thankful smile, tells them what has happened: Kes has used her powers to move them safely beyond Borg space, taking ten years off their journey.
In Cargo Bay 2, Seven of Nine stands, looking at herself. Her exo-plating is absent, replaced by a silver cat suit. Her skin is now fully back to its normal, pre-assimilation, Caucasian pigment. Her previously bald head, with its Borg implants, is now crowned by blonde hair, secured in a French twist at the back. Except for the curving attachment over her left eye socket, the rest of her eyepiece has been replaced by the life-like ocular implant The Doctor crafted for her. The eyepiece attachment, a star-shaped attachment on the right side of her face just before her ear, and the silver, skeletal outline of the exo-plating that covered her left hand are the only visible traces of Borg technology that can be seen on her.
Janeway and The Doctor enter, accompanied by a security officer. The Doctor tells her he has removed 82% of her Borg implants but the rest are tied into her vital functions. He proudly takes credit for designing her attire and re-stimulating the growth of her hair. He leaves to go and familiarize himself with the Borg alcoves. He tells her that she will still need to regenerate to maintain her remaining Borg systems and he will be monitoring her regularly to ensure these systems stay working properly. Janeway smiles slightly as she informs her that she will consider allowing her access to the rest of the ship once she is sure she will not try to get them assimilated again. Seven of Nine assures her that will not happen. Janeway is happy to hear this. She leaves, giving her a combadge and telling her to contact her if she needs anything. Seven of Nine turns to go to her alcove. But just before Janeway leaves the cargo bay, Seven gives her the answer to one of the questions she had raised in the brig about the child, Annika Hansen. Her favorite color, she tells her, was red.
Tuvok, in his quarters, carries his lit meditation lamp to a window. He holds it up briefly as if offering it and places it on the ledge, in honor of his former student. He and the lamp are both seen from outside as the ship continues on toward home, most of the Borg modifications on its hull now absent, Borg space now, thankfully, behind them.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. Warp drive is still off-line and we don't know whether the Borg have detected us. Kes' psychokinetic abilities continue to damage the ship's structural integrity, and as a result our defenses have been compromised."
"I guess the Borg meet a lot of people, don't they?"
"Stupid question... So, what's it like out there, in Galactic Cluster 3?"
"Beyond your comprehension."
"Galactic cluster three is a trans-material energy plane intersecting twenty-two billion omnicordial life-forms."
"Ah... Interesting. (Kim walks away, looking utterly defeated)
- - Kim and Seven of Nine
"I've got an Ocampan who wants to be something more and a Borg who's afraid of becoming something less. Here's to Vulcan stability."
- - Janeway, to Tuvok
"I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you; the existence you were denied; the child who never had a chance; that life is yours to live, now."
"I don't want that life!"
"It's what you are. Don't resist it!"
- - Janeway and Seven of Nine
"The child you spoke of, the girl. Her favorite color was red."
- - Seven of Nine and Janeway
"She threw us safely beyond Borg space. 10 years closer to home."
- - Janeway, moved by Kes's parting gift.
"I also took the liberty of stimulating your hair follicles. A vicarious experience for me, as you might imagine."
- - The Doctor, to Seven of Nine
"My gift to you..."
- - Kes, to Janeway as Kes leaves Voyager
Background information Edit
Production history Edit
- Production number: 011-40840-170
- Final draft script: 4 June 1997 
- Day 1 – 6 June 1997, Friday – Paramount Stage 16: Class 2 shuttle interior; Paramount Stage 9: Sickbay, cargo bay 2
- Day 2 – 9 June 1997, Monday – Paramount Stage 8: Bridge; Paramount Stage 9: Sickbay
- Day 3 – 10 June 1997, Tuesday – Paramount Stage 9: Medlab, Corridor, Kes' quarters
- Day 4 – 11 June 1997, Wednesday – Paramount Stage 9: Chief Medical Officer's office, Sickbay, Corridor; Paramount Stage 8: Captain's ready room, Tuvok's quarters
- Day 5 – 12 June 1997, Thursday – Paramount Stage 9: Brig, Engineering
- Day 6 – 13 June 1997, Friday – Paramount Stage 8: Mess hall; Paramount Stage 9: Engineering, Jefferies tube
- Day 7 – 16 June 1997, Monday – Paramount Stage 9: Cargo bay 2, Kes' quarters, Sickbay
- 2nd Unit – 16 July 1997, Wednesday – Paramount Stage 9: Engineering, Kes' quarters, Sickbay; Paramount Stage 8: Mess hall
- 2nd Unit – 17 July 1997, Thursday – Paramount Stage 8: Captain's ready room; Paramount Stage 9: Jefferies tube, Brig
- 2nd Unit – 21 August 1997, Thursday – Paramount Stage 16: Jefferies tube
- Airdate: 10 September 1997
Story and script Edit
- This episode was originally to be the fifth installment of Star Trek: Voyager's fourth season. However, due to a change in scheduling, the episode ultimately became the second of that season. Bryan Fuller recalled, "It was supposed to be episode five of season four." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 67)
- This episode's development began with the decision to write the character of Kes out of Star Trek: Voyager. Executive Producer Jeri Taylor commented, "We knew we would probably want to eliminate her in some interesting way." (Braving the Unknown: Season Four, VOY Season 4 DVD) The task of plotting the installment around Kes' departure was tried out on Bryan Fuller. Although he later joined Voyager's writing staff in a full-time capacity, Fuller was, at the time of the episode's origin, a freelance writer who had pitched several ideas to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He recalled, "They were looking for writers on Voyager, so I got called in to rewrite a story; actually, to come up with a way to kill off Kes." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18) It was Co-Executive Producer Brannon Braga who requested that Fuller work on the episode. "He was like, 'Ok, come up with a bunch of ideas to kill off Kes,'" remembered Fuller. "I came up with several of them, and worked on that a little bit." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, p. 50) The fledgling writer suggested a means of departure for the character during a pitching session with Braga. Fuller recounted, "I came in and I pitched that her powers were getting away from her and she's evolving into this next phase of the Ocampan evolutionary process. They were like, 'That's great. We're going to do that.'" (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 67) Although Fuller initially hoped the episode would be his first teleplay credit, the change in production order instead resulted in staffer Joe Menosky writing the script, turning the episode out under an extreme time crunch. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18; Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 67) Fuller nevertheless concluded, "It was kind of cool to be included in the writing-off of the character." (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, p. 50)
- The analogy that Janeway makes between the Borg and wolves, in this episode, was much in keeping with the way that members of Star Trek: Voyager's writing staff came to think of the Borg, after considering them as analogous to an addictive drug from which Seven was undergoing cold turkey as well as a cult that Seven was no longer a member of. Joe Menosky explained, "Both of those images are negative. You'd have a main character, who in the back of your mind you're thinking, she's an ex-drug addict, an ex-cult member. We were really thinking about that, and we came up with the idea of the wild child, the wolf child, the little girl who was raised by wolves in a forest and is finally reclaimed by humanity. She always was human, but for a formative period of her life she was also a wolf." Not only was this parallel to Seven obvious to Menosky but he also believed that the Borg were like wolves because, although they could both be seen as very dangerous and frightening, there was also something potentially awe-inspiring about their collective state, such as a wolf pack. Continuing to muse over the merits of this analogy, Menosky related, "That gave us something that was a little ambiguous and it didn't make [Seven] a victim so much. It gave her also an edge of arrogance and haughtiness. That was the image that we settled on." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 78)
Cast and characters Edit
- Joe Menosky recognized a correlation between Janeway's interactions with the departing Kes and the captain's relationship with the newly arrived Seven of Nine. "There was a parallel with Janeway having to keep things together, going from the new person on board, Seven, to the person who was entering this strange transformation of her own and leaving," Menosky observed. "Janeway was dead in the center of those two relationships, the coming and the parting." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 78)
- Due to his work on this episode, Bryan Fuller at first gravitated towards the character of Kes. "I initially really bonded to Kes," said Fuller, "because I spent so much time thinking about how does this character go away and leave the show, and make room for another character?" (Star Trek Magazine issue 171, p. 50)
- This was the last regular episode of Star Trek: Voyager that starred Jennifer Lien as Kes. Bryan Fuller noted that the reason for this episode's change in production order was "because of Jennifer Lien's schedule." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 67)
- Around the same time as this episode was produced, the series' regular cast took Jennifer Lien out to dinner and she had a poignant discussion with Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew on the same night. Mulgrew later remembered, "I drove her home and said, 'This could be serendipity, Jen. You're so unusual and so deep and fine. I believe it's the beginning of a stellar career.'" (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 20)
- However, Kate Mulgrew also initially struggled with emotionally accepting the fact that Jennifer Lien was leaving, such that Mulgrew believed she could relate to Janeway's feelings here. At the time, Mulgrew commented, "It's as much a sorrow for me as Kate as it is for Captain Janeway." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 20) In addition, the sense of loss that Mulgrew felt impacted on her, during the making of this episode. She confessed, "I was very upset and I found it very difficult to get through that episode, really difficult." (Braving the Unknown: Season Four, VOY Season 4 DVD)
- Actress Jeri Ryan found the look of Seven of Nine in the majority of this episode to be detestable. Ryan commented, "In the second episode, I look half-Borg, which is only slightly less horrific than full Borg." Despite this, Ryan was not pre-warned of how she would look in this episode, nor in the previous one ("Scorpion, Part II"). (Voyager Time Capsule: Seven of Nine, VOY Season 4 DVD) She stated about this installment, "I didn't realize I would be doing an episode [...] mostly as a Borg." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 38) Indeed, Ryan had assumed that, by this point in the series, Seven would already be mostly Human. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 115, p. 24; The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, p. 38)
- Jeri Ryan ultimately thought highly of this episode. "It's a very good show and a very good script [....] They did an excellent job with the debate between Seven and Janeway," opined Ryan. "They made the argument not so black and white. Janeway's choices are not clear-cut, and there are no absolutely right or wrong answers." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 39) She elaborated, "I applauded the fact that the writers had the guts to make it a gray issue as opposed to a black-and-white one. They didn't make Janeway completely right sitting on her white horse and the Borg completely evil, because they're not. They had a lot of courage to do something like that and I thought it was terrific." (TV Zone, Special #29, p. 18) Ryan also cited this episode as one of her favorites from the fourth season of Voyager (along with "Prey", "The Killing Game" two-parter, and "Hope and Fear"), enthusing, "I loved 'The Gift' [...] because that was where you first really saw Seven making the transition from Borg to semi-Human." (Star Trek Monthly issue 40, p. 35) However, in another interview, Ryan specified that her approval of this outing was "not because it was Seven's big transition episode but just because I thought it was a beautifully written story." She went on to remark, "I felt the writers took a great deal of care with the scenes involving Janeway and Kes and Janeway and Seven." Ryan particularly liked the scene in the brig when Janeway tells Seven she has no choice but to become Human and Seven replies by telling Janeway she is therefore no different from the Borg. "That is my favourite [scene] of anything we've done [....] I just love that," the actress enthused. (TV Zone, Special #29, p. 18)
- Tuvok actor Tim Russ listed this episode, midway through the fourth season, as one of five episodes that he characterized as "the defining moments for Tuvok". He further remarked, "The scene in 'The Gift,' where you see Tuvok reacting to Kes having left the ship wasn't perhaps a defining moment, but it was important. I didn't have as much to do in that episode as I thought I might. Her departure ended up being very abrupt." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 17)
- Ethan Phillips thoroughly enjoyed this installment and, like Tim Russ, found one scene in particular to be highly important. Shortly after working on the episode, he described it as "the best show we've done in the last three years." Phillips continued by explaining, "I don't have much to do in it, but I have one scene with Kes where we acknowledge for the first time between ourselves and for the audience that we're just friends now. So that's an important scene." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 39)
- Another member of the regular cast whose opinion of this episode was very high was Kate Mulgrew. She stated, "'The Gift' shall be, I believe, heartbreaking [....] This is a very good episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 8)
- Although actor-turned-director Anson Williams had helmed a Voyager episode before this one (namely, the third season's "Real Life"), this was the first episode on which he worked with Jeri Ryan, who was somewhat surprised upon first learning that Williams was scheduled to direct this installment. "When I saw the call sheet and saw that it was going to be directed by Potsie Weber [Anson Williams], I realized that I was working my way through the Happy Days cast," she said, half-jokingly. "My final episode of Dark Skies [in which Ryan had regularly starred, prior to joining the cast of Star Trek: Voyager] featured Ralph Malph; Don Most did a guest-starring role on that show. So, maybe I'll work my way up to Richie Cunningham [Ron Howard]." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 39)
- Although the makeup for Seven of Nine's full-Borg appearance took two and a half hours to apply, Jeri Ryan found that the process of having her half-Borg makeup applied took half an hour longer. She explained, "Actually, [...] that took three hours, because all the seams were exposed around the bald cap." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 76) She also remarked, "All the seams on the latex head showed because some of the appliances had been taken off." (Star Trek Monthly issue 37, p. 18)
- During the making of this episode, Jeri Ryan and Anson Williams had a discussion in the engineering set on Paramount Stage 9. (Star Trek Monthly issue 37, p. 15)
- Jeri Ryan found embarrassment with performing the moment when Seven thrusts herself at the brig's force field. "There was a scene when Seven of Nine was in the brig," Ryan recalled, "when, I guess, she sort of half-boarded this plane. And I had to sort of throw myself up against the force field that holds you in the brig. Well of course, there's nothing there, really, so force-field acting was always one of the most embarrassing moments on the set, because you just stood there and did this and looked like a complete idiot!" (Star Trek Magazine issue 119, p. 46)
- Kate Mulgrew's sadness regarding Jennifer Lien's departure made the filming of one particular scene of this episode challenging for Mulgrew: Janeway's farewell to Kes. "[It was an] awful moment when I had to say goodbye to Jennifer Lien," Mulgrew sadly remembered. "You can well imagine; I had to 'act' what I was in fact feeling, and this is a treacherous terrain." (Braving the Unknown: Season Four, VOY Season 4 DVD)
- The silver bodysuit that Seven of Nine wears in this episode's penultimate scene was uncomfortable for Jeri Ryan but more bearable than the makeup and costume she had donned for the rest of the episode. At the time, Ryan said of the silver bodysuit, "It's very, very tight [....] It's not a comfortable costume." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 36) However, she also stated that it was "infinitely" more comfortable than the full- and half-Borg looks. "Compared to the Borg costume it was a walk in the park," she added. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 76)
- Working with Anson Williams on this episode was "a dream" for Jeri Ryan. (TV Zone, Special #29, p. 18) She enthused, "Anson was wonderful." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 39)
- During the filming of the first day of this episode, Friday 6 June 1997, Kate Mulgrew had a UPN photoshoot. The call sheet for this day features her timetable. She was picked up at 12:00, had her hair and makeup done between 12:20 pm and 2:00 pm, the photo shoot between 2:00 pm and 3:30 pm, was picked up for the transport to the Paramount Pictures studios at 3:30 pm, and was back in makeup/hair for filming her scene on this day at 4:00 pm.
- On the third day of production, Tuesday 10 June 1997, the call sheet features background actor Michael Braveheart with a makeup call at 6:30 am. He was dressed and appeared as a Klingon during an official event.
- Stock CGI footage of magnified, burning atoms was reused here, after having previously been shown in the second season Voyager installment "Cold Fire." (Delta Quadrant, p. 195)
- For the sequences where Kes is seen to be physically destabilizing, several effects elements were composited together, such as an example of random digital artwork. Visual effects producer Dan Curry remembered, "We wanted something a little strange and a little alien to kind of feather into Kes as she's going through her transmutation. So [...] in Photoshop, I just did a freehand drawing of odd tissue and veiny things, inspired by water buffalo placenta. And then we would occasionally double expose that into Kes as she's kind of fluctuating in and out of our physical reality." Another element used was liquid nitrogen, which was utilized to show the physical fluctuations of not only Kes but also some of the items she has an effect on, such as the mess hall table in the scene between her and Neelix. "We just trickled it over black velvet on an incline plane, and it broke up in these wonderful little waves and we were able to use that as a keying element," Curry recalled of the liquid nitrogen. "Because it's white over black, you have enough contrast that you can create basically an electronic stencil, through which you can print other information. And that's a piece of the puzzle that went into Kes' transmutation." (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 4 DVD)
- Foundation Imaging created the the pull-out shot at the end of this episode, which required that Voyager be extraordinarily detailed. CGI Effects Director Ron Thornton recollected, "Because we were going to be so close to Voyager at first, we had to put detail in all the windows around it. We couldn't just use the white lights that had been on the miniatures. We were actually able to move around Voyager, and you can see people and things in the ship's windows, which makes a lot of difference." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 16)
- This is the second episode in which the main characters from all seasons (including both Kes and Seven of Nine) appear, the first being the previous episode, "Scorpion, Part II", and the third and final episode being "Fury", the only episode after this one to feature the character of Kes. After completing this episode, Jeri Ryan said about her relationship with Jennifer Lien, "We rarely crossed paths and I don't know if that was an intentional scheduling thing or not, in order to make the transition easier. We only had two scenes together in the two episodes that overlapped. She was very nice, but I did not get to associate with her much." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, pp. 37-38)
- The mid-season replacement of a main cast member in a Star Trek series, such as swapping Kes for Seven of Nine, was a very rare event. Robert Beltran noted about Star Trek's production personnel, "I guess they had never done what they did with Jennifer Lien [...] – replaced a regular in mid-season." (Star Trek Monthly issue 38, p. 22)
- Janeway states that she has met de-assimilated Borg. This could be a reference to Jean-Luc Picard's Borg alter ego (Locutus of Borg), the rogue Borg group led by Hugh after the events of TNG: "Descent, Part II", and/or Riley Frazier and the other drones released from the collective, as seen in VOY: "Unity".
- After the introduction of the silver bodysuit in this episode's penultimate scene, Seven of Nine would go on to appear in that outfit and similar ones throughout most of the rest of the series. The silver variant worn here was a rarely used version, however. The speed at which Seven's appearance changed, she having been introduced in the previous episode ("Scorpion, Part II"), made sense to Brannon Braga. He noted, "I think she had to change, because you can't ask that actress to come in nine hours a day and wear 30 pounds of make-up. I also think seeing her as a Borg would have got tiresome after a while. She's still part Borg, but we've made a choice to let her beauty shine through more than the Borg." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 14) Although Star Trek scribe Ronald D. Moore was aware of the reasoning for the majority of Seven's Borg appliances being removed, he did not approve of the decision to discard them. "Why can't she look like a Borg? Why does she have to be this supermodel with a couple of pieces of tech on her head? It's just silly. It just belies the whole function of bringing her aboard," Moore commented. "If you're gonna bring her aboard because she's a Borg, that's a threat and an odd thing. You want her to be in the face of the crew." 
- This episode features the first large-scale jump Voyager makes toward home – in this case, 9,500 light years (otherwise 10 years at maximum warp).
- According to The Doctor, this episode takes place "a few days" after Kes's contact with Species 8472 during "Scorpion".
- Like TNG: "Family", this episode deals with the ramifications of a Borg-related two-parter whose second part features a Human character (a regular of the series) being separated from the Borg. (The TNG two-parter is "The Best of Both Worlds" and "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II", in which Picard is assimilated and then separated from the Collective, whereas the VOY two-parter is "Scorpion" and "Scorpion, Part II", wherein Seven of Nine is separated from the Collective).
Reception and aftermathEdit
- Due to being somewhat regretful about Kes' departure, Joe Menosky had mixed feelings about this outing. "For my own taste, the scenes between Seven and Janeway are OK," he commented. "I just did not like the story of what becomes of Kes." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 78)
- The episode was personally approved of by Jeri Taylor. "I think that it worked," she said. (Star Trek Monthly issue 36, p. 13) Taylor also characterized the installment as one of numerous "'quiet' shows" and said that – although it has not even "a single phaser shot in it" – the episode was "enormously popular." (Star Trek Monthly issue 40, p. 15)
- Ultimately, Bryan Fuller was relieved that he was not the person who wrote the episode's script. "I'm glad I didn't, really," he admitted, "because [Joe Menosky] did such an amazing job; it was so touching." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2, p. 67)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.6 million homes, and a 9% share. (X)
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 77)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 36, p. 60)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 197) gives this installment a rating of 7 out of 10.
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.1, 2 February 1998
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- John Austin as operations division officer
- Erica Bryan as Annika Hansen (photo)
- Cullen Chambers as operations division officer
- Damaris Cordelia as operations division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Zach LeBeau as Larson
- Rad Milo as operations division officer
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Heather Rattray as operations division officer
- Jennifer Riley as science division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Pablo Soriano as operations division ensign
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division officer
- Chester E. Tripp III as operations division officer
- Unknown actor as Ayala (voice)
Stunt doubles Edit
- George Colucci as stunt double for Ethan Phillips
- Al Goto as stunt double for Garrett Wang
- Unknown stuntwoman as stunt double for Jeri Ryan
- Cameron – stand-in for Jeri Ryan
- Sue Henley – stand-in for Kate Mulgrew
- Susan Lewis – stand-in for Roxann Dawson
- Lemuel Perry – stand-in for Tim Russ
- J.R. Quinonez – stand-in for Robert Picardo
- Keith Rayve – stand-in for Robert Duncan McNeill and Chester E. Tripp III
- Jennifer Riley – stand-in for Jennifer Lien
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Robert Beltran and hand double for Robert Picardo
- Hallie Singleton – hand double for Jennifer Lien
- Deborah Stiles – hand double for Kate Mulgrew
- Simon Stotler – stand-in for Ethan Phillips
- John Tampoya – stand-in for Garrett Wang
- Unknown actor – photo double for Ethan Phillips
47; anetrizine; assimilation; autonomous regeneration sequencer; bio-synthetic gland; Borg alcove; Borg Collective; Borg drone; brain; brig; cell; cellular flux; circus; Class 2 shuttle; colliculus; communications node; cranial nerve; Delta Quadrant; Drexler outpost; dissection; esophageal tract; ethically obligated; fashion; Federation; flight plan; Galactic Cluster 3; hair follicle; Hansen, Erin; Hansen, Magnus; immune system; insertion juncture; intruder alert; iris; Jefferies tube; kilometer; logic; master; medical tricorder; meditation lamp; microconnector; motor cortex; nanoprobe; nervous system; neural shock; neurotransceiver; neurosequencer; ocular implant; Omega sector; omnicordial lifeform; onion; organelle; peeling; plasma relay; Raven, USS; respiratory system; security team; sedative; sequencer conduit; serotonin; Species 259; Species 8472; surgical bay; Talaxian champagne; telekinesis; Tendara colony; toast; transmaterial energy plane; transwarp signature; trochlear nerve; unnamed nebula; Vulcan; Vulcan master; Vulcan mind meld
- "The Gift" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Gift" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Gift" at Wikipedia
- "The Gift" at IMDb
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