Seven of Nine: The Gift?

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Seven of Nine’s second appearance on Star Trek Voyager is in season four, episode two titled “The Gift”. This episode focuses on Seven of Nine’s transition from a full Borg drone to what we now call an XB (ex-Borg) and Kes’ transition to a higher form of existence. Given the amount of physical, mental, and emotional distress experienced in this episode it might have been more aptly titled “Trauma”.

The moment that Captain Janeway disconnected Seven of Nine from the collective, she took on a heightened sense of responsibility for making decisions on behalf of Seven of Nine’s. As Seven of Nine realizes that she is no longer connected to the Collective her anger grows and her demands to be returned to the Borg become more assertive, especially toward Janeway. Seven of Nine is not only experiencing the pain of her Borg implants beginning to fail but is also experiencing the fear of being disconnected from the only life she has known for the past eighteen years.

As Captain Janeway has done many times during Voyager’s journey through the Delta Quadrant, she leans heavily on the ideal of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. In this case, the need to protect Voyager and her crew from further contact with the Borg outweighs Seven of Nine’s need to return to the Collective. Janeway also needs Seven of Nine’s knowledge of the Borg technology that she installed on Voyager to help them remove it so they can get the ship running again.

The Doctor makes it clear to Janeway that Seven of Nine’s biological systems are fighting the Borg technological systems and that if he doesn’t intervene by starting to remove the Borg technology then Seven of Nine will die. Janeway appoints herself responsible for Seven of Nine and orders the Doctor to proceed with removing the Borg technology. It is clear at this moment that Janeway doesn’t take the responsibility lightly and maybe even understands at some level what Seven of Nine is about to experience. What we do know is that Janeway will feel responsible for Seven of Nine at some level for the rest of her life.

In the moments that Seven of Nine is conscious, she lashes out at Janeway for forcing this human assimilation on her. She continues to demand to be returned to the Borg. At one point she even appeals to Janeway asking if she does become an individual and still decides to go back to the Borg will she be allowed to do so. Janeway never really answers Seven of Nine’s question, and the agony of Seven of Nine’s condition becomes only more enhanced by her frustration of the situation.

In each scene that features Seven of Nine in this episode we see changes to her skin tone as it goes from the ash grey of the assimilated Borg to a more pigmented human skin tone. Her Borg implants become fewer as her human biology begins to take over for the Borg technology. There is even a change in Seven of Nine’s speech pattern as the regimented mono tones of a fully assimilated Borg drone give way to a slower and more individual thought-initiated human way of communicating.

As Seven of Nine’s physical body begins to assimilate back to a predominantly human state, Janeway strives to find ways to help Seven of Nine connect with any memories she may have of who she was as a child before being taken by the Borg. Janeway at one point even rattles off a series of questions hoping to initiate some form of individual identity within Seven of Nine. Janeway even shows Seven of Nine a picture of a young Annika Hansen which invokes another new emotional response from Seven of Nine…rage.

Despite all of Janeway’s efforts built on the idea of trying to help Seven of Nine and protect Voyager, what Janeway was really doing was putting Seven of Nine through the trauma of assimilating back to being predominantly human, causing Seven of Nine to remember the trauma of who she was before being assimilated by the Borg and setting her up to relive the trauma of her past assimilation by the Borg and the atrocities she committed as a Borg in the future. The weight of Seven of Nine’s experience is felt throughout this episode.

There were some actual “gifts” that came from this episode. Seven of Nine’s life was saved by Kes before the Doctor could even begin the process of removing her Borg technology. As Kes was experiencing existing beyond the sub-atomic level she was able to identify and remove a component of Borg technology that was failing but was undetectable by the Doctor. Kes was also responsible for transporting Voyager and her crew out of Borg space and knocking ten years from their journey home after she fully transitioned into a higher form of existence. This was quite a thank-you gift for her crewmates.

The ultimate gift we get from this episode is one of Star Trek’s ultimate survivors – Seven of Nine. The Doctor was able to remove 82% of the Borg technology and add human characteristics to Seven of Nine. Hair, an enhanced eye to replace some of her ocular technology, and of course the bio-suit all contributed to a more human version of Seven of Nine. Seven of Nine even gives Janeway a nod to her efforts to connect Seven of Nine with Annika Hansen when Seven of Nine tells Janeway that the young girl’s favorite color was red.

Seven of Nine will carry the stigma of being a former Borg for most, if not all her life. It will at times be her biggest hindrance and at times be the thing that saves her life and the lives of those she cares about. What Seven of Nine will become is an individual XB that helps to save humanity and the galaxy despite her past trauma.

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Fueled by coffee and willing to charge into a nebula for more. I’m a lifelong musician and creative with a love for all things sci-fi. In a universe where you can be anyone, be a Trekkie.

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