(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 3x17|
Production number: 159
First aired: 12 February 1997
|←||58th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||58th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||454th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Robert Duncan McNeill
Chakotay is injured and trapped on a world where the inhabitants are engrossed in conflict, but the people who rescue and care for him harbor a disturbing secret.
- "First officer's log, stardate 50614.2. Ensign Kaplan and I are returning to Voyager after completing a scouting mission in the Nekrit Expanse."
While attempting to find a faster way through the Nekrit Expanse, Commander Chakotay and Ensign Kaplan cannot get a fix on their current position and are therefore lost. When Chakotay points out an asteroid field, Kaplan notes that it is the same one they passed two hours before – they have been flying in circles. They cannot contact Voyager as they are out of com range. Soon after, they pick up a signal buoy with a Federation signature. As they get closer, they hear a distress call from the planet. Before they land their shuttlecraft on the planet, Chakotay has Kaplan launch a message buoy so Voyager will know they landed in response to a distress call. Upon landing, they almost immediately come under fire from hostile aliens. Kaplan is killed by the unknown foes while Chakotay is left injured. Soon, another group comes and scares the hostiles off, taking the unconscious commander with them.
Chakotay wakes up in the dark to find himself in a room where he sees a woman by the name of Riley Frazier. Chakotay soon learns about Frazier and the others: they were attacked by aliens in the Bolian sector in the Alpha Quadrant, some were killed and others put in stasis. They woke up on this planet, along with several Romulans, Klingons, and Cardassians. All were grabbed from where they were. One group of them attacked Chakotay and Kaplan, and Frazier's group saved him. She tells him that she is part of a cooperative.
- "Captain's log, stardate 50622.4. While Commander Chakotay scouts for a faster route through the Nekrit Expanse, we are continuing our month-long journey through the sparsely populated region."
After an otherwise uneventful journey, Voyager flies through the Nekrit Expanse. Lieutenant Tom Paris remarks that this region of space should be instead called the "Negative Expanse", as the crew has not come across anything remotely interesting for days. Captain Kathryn Janeway suggests that if the helmsman is bored, the warp plasma filters are due for a thorough cleaning. Paris then tells her that he now finds the Expanse to be an interesting navigational challenge. Later, Voyager discovers an apparently derelict and abandoned Borg cube. Captain Janeway orders that Voyager be taken to red alert. Janeway orders all stop, shields to maximum, and to stand by all weapons. However, chief tactical officer Tuvok cannot detect any Borg systems operational on the cube. Janeway has Ensign Harry Kim run a multiphasic scan, but the operations officer cannot find any active power signatures nor any life signs aboard. "Well, that's a relief", Paris notes. Tuvok advises caution but Janeway decides to board the cube: this represents a rare – and highly valuable – opportunity to understand their technology.
Back on the planet, Chakotay continues to learn about the cooperative, and Frazier tells him that she has put down roots here. When she goes to work on the communications array, Chakotay wants to help but she refuses, saying he is too weak to work and that he should rest.
Meanwhile, Captain Janeway's away team boards the Borg cube. Tuvok and chief engineer B'Elanna Torres determine that all activity on the vessel ceased five years ago but for reasons they cannot yet explain. They theorize that either an accident occurred or, however improbable it seems, an attack from a more powerful species disabled the cube – though did not completely destroy it, instead letting it adrift. Torres finds an access node. If she can get it operational, she should be able to tap into the cube's data systems to find an answer. While Tuvok tries to find a compatible micro-power relay to connect to a generator, a dead Borg drone falls in front of him from behind a wall.
In Voyager's briefing room, Torres tells the captain that their scans have determined there are 1,100 Borg corpses on the cube. Tuvok remarks that they located a breached section of the cube, where some of the bodies of Borg were preserved perfectly. Torres adds that one of the bodies of a drone was brought aboard for an autopsy to provide an answer as to what killed them all. Janeway wonders why the Collective has left one of their ships with all of its technology intact for anyone to find. Tuvok suggests that the deactivation of the cube severed its link to the Collective. Torres, however, speculates that the Borg were possibly defeated by an enemy even more powerful than the Collective. Janeway orders Torres to assist The Doctor with the autopsy of the drone and suggests contacting Commander Chakotay to return from his scouting message early and let him know they have run into "some old friends."
At the same time, Chakotay manages to break out of the room where he was being kept. A vast plant is revealed, and all the individuals have implants similar to Borg drones. Frazier explains to Chakotay that they were once drones, many assimilated during the Battle of Wolf 359, but an electro-kinetic storm caused by the expanse broke their link with the hive mind. Realizing how far they were from Federation space, they settled on a planet and learned how to survive and cooperate with one another.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We've detected a message buoy launched from Chakotay's shuttle and are heading toward it. The autopsy of the Borg corpse is underway."
In sickbay, The Doctor concludes from his autopsy of a Borg corpse taken from the cube that it had been electrocuted and suffocated in space. But when The Doctor tries activating an axonal amplifier with a cortical probe, the drone jerks upright, frightening everyone observing. Lieutenant Torres concludes that The Doctor's actions caused the Borg to reset to its original programming, meaning that the other corpses could also be reactivated. "We'd have a major problem on our hands", Torres fearfully notes.
Due to the blast Chakotay took early on, his health soon worsens. One of the former Borg drones, Orum, who is a Romulan, tells him that if he does not let them help him he will die before Voyager arrives. They help by using a neural link to heal Chakotay's injuries. "I'm not letting anyone implant some neural processor in my brain!" Chakotay is more than reluctant but he finally agrees when he sees no other alternative. During this experience he sees many of their memories and thoughts. It is a powerful and enlightening experience for him, and it also helps heal his neural damage.
Soon after this, Voyager arrives in orbit of the planet. When the inhabitants detect it, Frazier tries to persuade Captain Janeway to assist in re-establishing the link for the entire population permanently. Specifically, they want the Voyager team to re-activate the neuroelectric generator on the Borg ship because they have enough energy to do so. While Janeway is willing to provide supplies, upgrade their security and even take some of them on Voyager if they wish, she is extremely skeptical about re-activating the neuroelectric generator. After Frazier leaves, Janeway asks for Chakotay's opinion. Chakotay says that the former Borg drones are sincere and they have no evil intent, and while in his heart he would do anything to help them, he agrees that the captain has to take other considerations into account. Janeway sees it as imposing a choice onto thousands of people without consent, and too dangerous that it may help create a new malevolent collective. Janeway decides not to help them.
After Voyager has delivered them much-needed supplies, Chakotay and Torres start returning to Voyager via shuttle. Soon after they left, the cooperative comes under attack and uses the link to telepathically contact Chakotay. They want him to reactivate the generator aboard the abandoned Borg ship, directly violating his orders. He shoots Torres with his phaser and takes the shuttle towards the Borg cube. The crew on Voyager detects the course change and pursue him. Chakotay and a Voyager away team both beam aboard the Borg cube. There is an exchange of phaser fire and both Lieutenant Tuvok and Chakotay are hit. However, Chakotay manages to activate the neuroelectric generator. When it is activated, it links all the planet inhabitants' thoughts together, putting an end to the violence as predicted.
However, the power also activates the Borg ship and its dormant drones. The rescue team sent to intercept Chakotay, along with Chakotay himself, are beamed aboard Voyager. The planet's inhabitants manage to trigger the Borg ship's self-destruct sequence before it gains weapon capabilities. Within three seconds the ship explodes. The inhabitants hail Voyager in their collective state and offer Voyager their lasting gratitude.
In sickbay, The Doctor explains that Chakotay's exposure to the Borg collective "heightened his telepathic receptivity" allowing them to influence him.
As Voyager travels away from the planet, Chakotay discusses the situation with Janeway and questions how long the inhabitants can retain a sense of morality amidst the power of a collective; it didn't take them long to use Chakotay against his will for their motives.
Log Entries Edit
- First officer's log, stardate 50614.2. Ensign Kaplan and I are returning to USS Voyager, after completing a scouting mission in the Nekrit Expanse.
- Captain's log, stardate 50622.4. While Commander Chakotay scouts for a faster route through the Nekrit Expanse, we are continuing our month-long journey through the sparsely populated region.
- Captain's log, supplemental. We've detected a message buoy, launched from Chakotay's shuttle, and are heading toward it. The autopsy of the Borg corpse is under way.
"The nebula's completely scrambling our navigational readings. I still can't get a fix on our position."
"Are you saying we're lost, ensign?"
"That... depends what you mean by lost, sir."
"Lost... as in you still can't get a fix on our position."
- - Ensign Kaplan and Chakotay
"Well at least someone knows where we are."
- - Chakotay
"I'm here to help you."
"How did I get here? I could ask you the same question."
"... it's a long story, why don't you go first."
- - Dr. Frazier and Chakotay
"There are dozens of different races on this planet, all of whom were brought here against their will. Many of them are suspicious of other species. It's not exactly a united federation around here, if you know what I mean."
- - Dr. Frazier
"You know, they ought to rename this region the 'Negative Expanse'. We haven't run across anything interesting for days."
"If you're bored, Mister Paris, I'm sure I can find something else for you to do. The warp plasma filters are due for a thorough cleaning."
"Now that you mention it, Captain, I find this region of space a real navigational challenge."
- - Tom Paris and Captain Janeway
"I must say, there's nothing like the vacuum of space for preserving a handsome corpse."
- - The Doctor, talking about the Borg corpse
"I thought you said the link was severed."
"It was... "
"But we can re-initiate it, among a small group, for a short time."
"We could generate a neuro-electric field that could heal your injuries."
"You want to hook up my mind to some kind of Borg collective! ... Thanks, but I don't think so."
"... If we don't do something to slow the neural degradation immediately, you will die."
- - Dr. Frazier, Orum, and Chakotay
"I'm not letting anyone implant some neural processor in my brain!"
- - Chakotay
"When we were linked, we had no ethnic conflict. There was no crime, no hunger, no health problems. We lived as one harmonious family."
"With all due respect, Dr. Frazier, you were one harmonious family bent on the violent assimilation of innocent cultures."
- - Dr. Frazier and Captain Janeway
"Proceed to interlink console 3 Beta 6. Hear our thoughts. Our thoughts are one."
"Interlink 3 Beta 6. Proceed to Interlink console 3 Beta 6. Hear our thoughts."
- - The inhabitants speaking to Chakotay aboard the Borg cube
"They saved us from that cube, and they let you go."
"But they didn't hesitate to impose their collective will on me when it served their interests, did they?"
"No, they didn't."
"I wonder how long their ideals will last in the face of that kind of power..."
- - Janeway and Chakotay
- The decision to create a Borg episode for Star Trek: Voyager, specifically one that would air in the all-important February sweeps period, was made in May 1996 or thereabouts. (Star Trek Monthly issue 23) After this decision was made, the prospect of the Borg appearing on Voyager influenced many story ideas that were pitched to the series. Staff writer Kenneth Biller explained, "We wanted to bring them back, and we got loads of pitches." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 86)
- Although Ken Biller was ultimately selected to pen this episode, he found it ironic that, even though he was the least avid of the Star Trek fans on Voyager's writing team, the episodes he was assigned to write – for the third season of the series – included both this installment and the Q episode "The Q and the Grey". (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 84)
- In coming up with this episode, Ken Biller wanted to make the Borg more interesting than their essentially one-note nature of relentlessly pursuing and consuming their enemies. He commented, "When you think about the Borg, they're interesting and cool, but they're just relentless and keep coming at you. How do you get under their skin? That was the question I had to ask." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18) The writer did some research by reading a script for Star Trek: First Contact, which was yet to be released at that point. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- Ken Biller then hit upon the concept that the Borg could, in some way, be collectively deBorgified. "I suddenly got this image of the Tower of Babel," he explained. "This incredibly interwoven, complex community had been created, and once you knocked it all down you would have all these people who spoke different languages, and couldn't communicate with each other. It occurred to me that a group of ex-Borg would be a very interesting community to explore." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102) It was when considering how the episode should depict the Borg that Biller struck upon this solution. "That's when I came up with the Tower of Babel idea of 'What would happen if the Borg were severed from the link?'" (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18)
- Ken Biller recognized a parallel between his idea and the break-up of the Soviet bloc. He recalled, "It suddenly occurred to me that it was basically like the Soviet Union, not to get too lofty about it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18) As such, he personified – in the character of Riley Frazier – the renewed nostalgia for communism that had developed in the area following the Soviet Union's dissolution. Biller also considered representing the experience of being a Borg as a unifying, pleasant existence; this led him to not only conceive of the disputes between the former Borg, as they were no longer in such harmony, but also to ask the audience to consider this idea by having Frazier present Janeway with the moral ambiguity. Biller remarked, "I thought it would be an interesting question to pose to the audience, to make her appeal to Janeway using Janeway's own kind of ideals." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- The writers originally considered including a decimated wasteland of Borg ships in this episode, such as had appeared – as the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf 359 – in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". "To be honest with you," Brannon Braga admitted, "we were going to do a Borg graveyard, and we didn't because we decided to just make it one cube." Despite such an area ultimately not featuring here, the concept was brought to fruition for the third season finale "Scorpion". Braga noted, "It's kind of an image that we had held over." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 17)
- This episode's first-draft script was submitted on 29 October 1996. The script's final draft was submitted on 7 November 1996.  Shortly after the final draft was approved, co-executive producer Jeri Taylor said that the installment "has been written and starts shooting soon." (Star Trek Monthly issue 23)
Cast and charactersEdit
- Ken Biller considered Riley Frazier to have worthy motives, noting, "[Riley's] motives were really noble." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102) This was not, however, how the character was viewed during production. In fact, Chakotay actor Robert Beltran was advised to think of her as a truly evil character. Director Robert Duncan McNeill recalled, "I told Robert [Beltran] that a real powerful image for me was that he was being seduced by the devil. The Borg woman is beautiful and sweet and sincere, but deep down, she is the devil. It was great when he got that." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 112, p. 56) McNeill also commented, "For me, 'Unity' was about Chakotay being seduced by the Devil, and that's what I told Robert Beltran. I said, 'let's make this kind of a film noire. Here's this dangerous woman, but she doesn't appear very dangerous in the beginning. She's very seductive. She's very sweet. And ultimately she turns out to be the Devil. She's still one of the Borg and part of that dangerous collective, and he's seduced by her. That was the story that I wanted to tell." (Star Trek Monthly issue 27, p. 13)
- Robert Beltran liked this episode. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, pp. 93-94; Star Trek Monthly issue 38, p. 18)
- Years after portraying Orum herein, Ivar Brogger went on to appear as Barus in the seventh season Voyager installment "Natural Law".
Sets, makeup, and costumesEdit
- The Borg set that was used for this episode was not from Star Trek: First Contact, although the physical designs of the Borg drones were, providing a revitalized look to the Borg of this installment. Robert Duncan McNeill explained, "The Borg costumes and makeup were from the movie. It was the new Borg, the scarier Borg." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- The Borg appliances were typically time-consuming to apply. Citing one particular example of this, Robert Duncan McNeill said, "We had a Borg with a working arm. He had an arm that was supposed to look like scissors, and the cables weren't working. All of a sudden you look at your watch and an hour or two has gone by and you haven't done anything because you're playing with cables." This mechanical arm was one of the costume pieces that had previously been used in Star Trek: First Contact. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- Robert Duncan McNeill found the episode's Borg set to be basically too small. He explained, "The Borg set, believe it or not, was one hallway that was about 40 feet long that curved around. It was the smallest set that I've ever seen in my life. We had no room on the stage to build a big Borg ship, because the other sets took up so much room. All the room they had was basically 40 feet in a semicircle. I said, 'You can't do this. The Borg are supposed to have these huge cubes.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (pp. 169 & 160), this episode's colony was mostly a redressed set that had previously been used for the Akritirian maximum security detention facility in "The Chute" and Bahrat's space station in "Fair Trade".
- The planet set of this episode was artificially extended via the use of a computer-generated matte painting created by Eric Chauvin (who had freelanced for Voyager ever since its pilot, "Caretaker", and was a friend of visual effects supervisor Mitch Suskin). "There's a wide establishing shot of the encampment, in a desert. It was all shot on the soundstage, and there's a construction crane that was moving around," Mitch Suskin explained, adding, "The building was extended." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 105)
- This episode was the second of four Voyager installments to be directed by Robert Duncan McNeill (who usually only played Tom Paris on the series); his directing debut had been the earlier third season episode "Sacred Ground" and he later directed the fifth season installment "Someone to Watch Over Me" as well as the Season 7 episode "Body and Soul". Shortly after finishing work on "Sacred Ground," he commented, "My next show is the one that introduces the Borg, the ones you saw in Star Trek: First Contact, to our show. It's a different challenge to direct an action piece [than to direct a more character-oriented episode, such as 'Sacred Ground.']" (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #11)
- Due to the fact that this episode's depiction of the Borg is a metaphor for the disintegrating Soviet bloc, Robert Duncan McNeill researched the history of that subject shortly before directing the installment. "I actually did some reading about that, about Russia and all the politics that went on," he revealed. "I think some of those ideas did come out in the story, even though it wasn't a really heavy, political episode. Yet there were some references and you could connect that to contemporary issues, individuality as opposed to group needs or desires." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 108)
- This episode's filming took place between 11 November 1996 and the 20th of that month.
- The fact that the Borg were only to be shown minimally in this episode, despite the installment having been eagerly anticipated over a long stretch of time, put extra pressure on Robert Duncan McNeill. Shortly after working on the episode but before the installment was aired, McNeill recalled, "What was most frightening for me was knowing that it was a Borg episode, but the Borg were only on two and a half pages of the whole script. The rest was all the mysterious ex-Borg. I said to the producers, 'You know, you're giving me a Borg episode, but we never get to see the Borg. I need more Borg or the fans are going to go crazy.' So I tried to give the same sort of suspense and mysterious quality that you get from the Borg. I tried to give that through the whole piece, so hopefully the fans will still feel that same tension without actually seeing the Borg for the whole piece. They really don't appear except on two or three pages of the script but there was a lot of pressure with this being the Borg introduction [to Star Trek: Voyager]." (Star Trek Monthly issue 27, p. 14)
- Another factor that created pressure on the episode's production was the challenge of measuring up to the promise of Star Trek: First Contact, that Star Trek film having been released three months before this episode was first aired. Robert Duncan McNeill explained, "With the film coming out, there were a lot of comparisons to that. How can we achieve something that doesn't drop the ball with what the movie did? [....] There was a lot of pressure not to repeat what they did, yet do something with [the Borg] that was just exciting." (Star Trek Monthly issue 27, p. 14)
- During production of this episode, Robert Duncan McNeill and the crew tried to hide the smallness of the Borg set. "I think we disguised that fact, and made it seem like it was really this labyrinth of tunnels," he said. "They'd walk down the tunnel once, and right by the camera, and then we'd cut, and they'd go back to the other end, and walk it again." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- In the moment between Janeway and Chakotay in the briefing room, Janeway paces the room as if she is Chakotay's conscience or guardian angel, while he ponders his situation. Explaining how this unscripted action came about, Robert Duncan McNeill recalled, "Kate Mulgrew came into the scene and said, 'I think this is a very delicate fishing expedition for Janeway with Chakotay. It's a very intimate moment.' She wanted to sort of move around and keep moving. That was not at all what I had planned. I had a completely different plan, and she did this movement and tried a feeling that I hadn't expected at all for that moment." The action influenced the filming of the scene. "Because of what she did," McNeill continued, "that shot came to me. I said, 'If that's what you want to do there, and I think it's working, let's do something different with the camera. Let's stay in real tight and have it just pass back and forth.'" McNeill concluded, "It's a much more intimate, mysterious shot than what I had planned, and it was really exciting to me when that happened." (Star Trek Monthly issue 27, p. 14)
- The montage that this episode uses to represent Chakotay's experience of linking with the Borg Cooperative features both newly shot footage (such as shots of the young Riley Frazier with her grandfather) and archive footage from such episodes as TNG: "Q Who", DS9: "Emissary", and "The Way of the Warrior", as well as VOY: "Caretaker". "Some of that was scripted," Robert Duncan McNeill said of the sequence. "Some of the things that were scripted we couldn't find, so that was a real collaboration, [between] Jeri Taylor and myself, Ken Biller, the writer, Bob Lederman, the editor and [producer] Wendy Neuss as well. We tried to go from the dialogue of what they actually said and then reinforce that with the images in the montage." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 102)
- Voyager's visual effects artists were eager to work on a Borg episode but felt somewhat let down by the scale of this installment. "We knew a Borg script was coming down the pipe, and we were excited," Mitch Suskin recalled. "When we first read the script we were disappointed that it wasn't a big battle, but as the show developed I started to like it a lot more." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 104)
- This episode debuted a newly designed version of the Borg cube. This was the third rendition of that particular ship design: the previous two versions had both been studio models, with the first having been featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the second having been built by Industrial Light & Magic for Star Trek: First Contact. Mitch Suskin commented, "The challenge of building another Borg cube and doing it CG was something we were curious to see if everybody would accept." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 104) The CGI model of the cube was built at Foundation Imaging by Emile Edwin Smith, who based it on the Next Generation and First Contact physical models. "Well, when I built the new cube for Voyager," Smith recalled, "I based everything off image maps and then modeled around them. To make it real simple I had an underlying cube that was mapped with an image. I then took the main image that I had created into modeler and started building on it. Basically it was large areas of chunkiness raised above the inner cube with many of the detailed areas of the map modeled on these areas. I also interconnected the pieces with tubes and added edge pieces to make it look more dimensional and 3d on the edges."
- Some footage of the previous physical type of Borg cube was also used here. Emile Edwin Smith noted of this installment, "We animated 90% of all the visual effects, the other 10% were stock model shots."  Some obvious examples where footage of the Borg cube was reused is in the montage sequence when Chakotay links with the former Borg.
- The visual effects artists were also tasked with designing the effect of the weapon blast that injures Chakotay at the start of the episode's first act. Recalling the creation of this effect, Mitch Suskin stated, "We had the big gun that Chakotay gets hit with, and the only thing we really knew was that it had to be some sort of energy wrapped around his body or head and gave him neurological damage. We sat down with Greg Rainoff, who's our animation effects artist, and played around with a few things." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, pp. 104-105)
- As Kim fires a phaser at two different Borg drones in the episode's climax, the visual effects artists were challenged with matching the look of the Borg being shot to the effects in Star Trek: First Contact. Mitch Suskin explained, "When the Borg get shot at, they have this shield that lights up. It's a 3-D effect with a couple of different elements, and because the movie had just come out, Mr. Berman wanted us to duplicate what was done on the feature. We were afraid that we wouldn't have the time or the money to do it. We wound up getting the elements that they used in the feature and tracking it in, much the way they did. It's usually the easiest things that give us the most trouble, and that was the case." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 105)
- Ultimately, Mitch Suskin was highly pleased with the ways CGI was incorporated into this episode. He commented, "When that Borg cube exploded, the only element was the explosion, the rest was accomplished in the CG domain. It was a real breakthrough. That was the first show that I really had no reservations about." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 104) Regarding the ultimately used effect of the blast that hits Chakotay, Suskin also enthused, "I think it really fell together, I was very pleased." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 105)
- This encounter with the Borg is alluded to slightly earlier in the series, in the form of the discovery of a Borg corpse in the previous episode, "Blood Fever". The only other previous presence of the Borg in Star Trek: Voyager is two references to them in the second season installment "Death Wish", wherein both of the references are to the Q Continuum's dealings with the Borg before that episode. Contrary to the aforementioned fact that the events of this episode are preempted, they are also later referenced in the fourth season episode "Scorpion, Part II".
- Although it is revealed in dialogue here that the Borg Cube was disabled by an electrokinetic storm, Torres' suggestion that the Borg may have been defeated "by an enemy even more powerful than they were" seems to foreshadow the introduction of Species 8472, who went on to make their first appearance in VOY: "Scorpion" at the end of the third season. This was, indeed, the intention of "Scorpion" co-writer Brannon Braga; to tie the two episodes together, in this manner, while making the events of each episode independently understandable. At the time, Braga said, "'Scorpion' definitely ties in with an event in 'Unity' but not such that you would have to have seen that episode to understand it. In 'Unity', we find a disabled cube. It was really never made clear how the cube was destroyed, and now [meaning in 'Scorpion'] you'll find out [....] So 'Unity' is only a hint of things to come." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 17)
- This is the last episode to be set inside the Nekrit Expanse, through which the crew has been traveling since the events of "Fair Trade". The Expanse would be seen again, however, in "Distant Origin", from the point of view of Gegen during his search for Voyager.
- When the Borg cube first appears on-screen, an unusual tone – reminiscent of the Borg theme in Star Trek: First Contact – can be heard.
- This is the first episode to establish that at least some of the Borg could continue to function following the defeat of their queen and some drones in Star Trek: First Contact. In fact, prior to the writing of this episode, there was considerable debate as to whether the Borg should make an appearance in Star Trek: Voyager, after the events of that movie. While the series' team of writer-producers were considering this possibility, First Contact co-writer Ronald D. Moore expressed a belief that the film should be the last appearance of the Borg whereas Brannon Braga, the film's other co-writer, divulged his support for what happens here – apparently "dead" Borg being revived. (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, pp. 36-37) With regard to this issue, Ken Biller said, "I think Rick [Berman] is very clear that just because we saw Borg destroyed in the movie doesn't mean that the entire collective was destroyed. We leave that an open question. There are other Borg in the Delta Quadrant." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 86)
- It is not explained how the former drones could be alive when the cube that assimilated them at Wolf 359 was destroyed in the Sol system during "Best of Both Worlds".
Reception and aftermathEdit
- Ken Biller was ultimately "really proud" of this installment. He noted, "I loved that episode." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18)
- Both Jeri Taylor and Brannon Braga also thought highly of this episode. Citing the installment as one of the highlights of Voyager's third season, Taylor noted, "I thought that our Borg episode in February, 'Unity', took an interesting look at that race." (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 11) Braga similarly included this episode among a few examples of third season Voyager installments that he thought were good (the other episodes being "Scorpion" and "Distant Origin"). Of this particular installment, he said, "I think 'Unity' was a very good example [of a good Star Trek: Voyager episode]. It was unexpected. It had a fascinating premise about the Borg, kind of a metaphor for the Soviet Union." (Star Trek Monthly issue 29, p. 13)
- Yet another production staffer who was satisfied with this episode was Robert Duncan McNeill. He enthused, "I was really happy with it. I was very pleased." (Star Trek Monthly issue 27, p. 14) Regarding the success of having advised Robert Beltran to think of Riley Frazier as the Devil, McNeill commented, "I think that we got a lot of that seduction, a lot of the character stuff in there, and ultimately a lot of action as well." (Star Trek Monthly issue 27, p. 13) McNeill was also personally pleased with the way this episode portrays the Borg; he told an audience at the bi-annual Novacon convention in April 1997 that he was proud of the episode "because the Borg were not [as] one-dimensional as previously depicted, but still as evil as ever." (Star Trek Monthly issue 29, p. 5) McNeill was initially concerned, though, about whether the episode's depiction of the Borg would be received well by Star Trek's fans. "The Borg are the essence of evil in a way, and this was kind of showing the cracks in that evil," he observed. "If we deactivate these bad guys, then they're really not so bad after all. I was nervous that the fans were going to reject that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 108)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.4 million homes, and an 8% share. 
- Much to the relief of Robert Duncan McNeill, the idea of the defanged Borg apparently piqued the fans' interest. "I think that they were really interested in the idea [....] When Star Trek has got good ideas and strong writing," McNeill stated, "that's what it's good at–making people think. I think this episode definitely did that on a lot of levels, and it entertained them at the same time." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 108)
- The temporary relationship between Chakotay and Riley Frazier upset some fans; specifically, the "J and C" group – the fans who were eager for the relationship between Janeway and Chakotay to become more explicit. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 94)
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 105)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars, defined as "Warp Speed". (Star Trek Monthly issue 29, p. 58)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 171) gives this installment a rating of 7 out of 10.
- Brannon Braga was not eager for the Borg Cooperative to reappear after this installment, although he was open to the question of their fate being answered in the future. When quizzed about the possibility (prior to the airing of the third season finale "Scorpion") of fans seeing the Cooperative again, he rhetorically asked, "Do you want to?" Pounding one of his fists in the air as if he was hammering nails into a coffin, he added, "Nailing in nails." Moments later, he continued, "The Cooperative is long gone, man. It's been months since we've seen the Cooperative. That's not to say we won't learn someday what happened to them. That's kind of an interesting question." (Star Trek Monthly issue 29, pp. 17-18)
- Several costumes and props from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including the costume of Ivar Brogger (Orum). 
Video and DVD releasesEdit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.9, 21 July 1997
- As part of the VOY Season 3 DVD collection
Links and referencesEdit
- Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Patrick Barnitt as Borg
- Steve Carnahan as operations division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Mark Major as Borg drone
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Craig Reed as former Borg drone
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Jennifer Somers as science division officer
- Michael Todd as Borg Cooperative personnel
- Unknown performers as Borg Cooperative personnel
access node; alveoli; anarchy; asteroid field; Alpha Quadrant; axonal amplifier; barbecue; bluebonnet; Bolian sector; Borg; Borg Cooperative; Cardassians; class M; combadge; communications array; cortical probe; data node; distress call; electrodynamic turbulence; electromechanical discharge; electrokinetic storm; euphoria; Farn; Federation; Federation hailing beacon; Happy Hunting Grounds; hive mind; holodeck; hoverball; Human; hyper spanner; inorganic; Klingon; message buoy; micro-power conduit; multiphasic scan; Nekrit Expanse; neural link; neural processor; neural tissue; neural transceiver; neural transponder; neural trauma; neuro-electric energy; neuro-electric field; neuro-electric field generator; neuroelectric power cell; neuropeptide; neuro-transceiver; neuro-transponder; optical scanners; Parein; prosthetic arm; red alert; Romulans; self-destruct sequence; skin pigmentation; "subspace transfusion"; telepathic receptivity; Texas; vegetarian; warp plasma filter; Wolf 359; Wolf 359, Battle of
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