Voyager rewatch 5.02 – “Drone”

Let’s face it: Seven’s surrogate sons don’t have very long lifespans.

“Drone” is a tricky episode.

On the one (heh) hand, it’s a very neat self-contained story. Many pre-serialisation Trek episodes feel incomplete. The good ones — or, at least, the well-written ones — feel like short stories. Self-contained and quickly over.

For the record, I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, and I’m also not quite ready to go out on a limb and call “One” good. I don’t think it’s bad — it competently tells the story it’s setting out to tell, builds on Seven’s character and has a complex subtext.

I just don’t know that I like the story it’s setting out to tell, or the additions it makes to Seven’s character, or the subtext.

Sooooooo. Maybe I just don’t like this episode.

An exercise in making Seven more traditionally feminine

This feels like the latest, though far from last, attempt to make Seven “more human”, meaning “more feminine, more neurotypical”.

We open with a scene in which she is alone with her mirror, attempting to smile. And girl, I get it. I remember, at age 13, thinking that I might want to get into this whole “facial expression” thing I had been reading about, and practising in the mirror until it felt natural.

The rest of the episode … well. Seven is reluctantly conscripted as mother-figure to a rapidly maturing Borg child created from an accidental encounter between her nanoprobes, the Doctor’s holo-emitter and a hapless science officer. Naturally her maternal instincts kick in, Because Women, and everyone is doing really well right up until the “kid” has to sacrifice himself lest the Collective get ahold of his 29th century implants.

I had totally forgotten that this episode existed when I watched season 1 of Picard, but gosh, it’s interesting how “Seven is sad because her surrogate son died” is a well to which the franchise has returned. I’m not saying there’s a paucity of ideas, but gosh, is “lady has child, child dies, lady sad” really worth exploring this many times?

(Picard did it again with Deanna!)

Like. I don’t know how to tell you this, but women can be sad for lots of reasons, totally unrelated to reproduction!

The Doctor’s story is marginally more interesting

Look, the Doctor does not cover himself in glory in this episode, what with how much of it he spends sexually harassing B’Elanna. (He actually harasses her a lot over the course of the series. It’s weird.) “Hello there” is a cute response to one’s colleague falling into one’s lap during a bit of turbulence; following it up with essentially opening a camera on her as she sleeps and showers is less forgivable.

However. If you consider the Doctor as having a disability — he is unable to spend time in any space without holo-emitters — then his mobile emitter is a unique and irreplaceable mobility device. And under the circumstances, he takes its loss very well.

I’m not saying this episode is pro-life propaganda, but only because I doubt the writers thought about it that much

But it sure is interesting1 that we have a whole episode about an accidental conception which takes place without the consent of any parties involved, at the cost of one “parent’s” mobility, and it’s only the woman who has to take on parental responsibility.

I particularly note that Janeway makes the choice that the Borg foetus should continue to develop, yet is unusually — uncharacteristically — hands off when it comes to its upbringing.

Also worthy of attention: the only person who suggests terminating the Borgling is Tuvok, just as it’s Worf — the resident alien — in the TNG episode “The Child” who is pushing for Deanna to terminate her overnight alien conception baby. For all Star Trek‘s liberal bona fides, abortion is off the table for the good humans of the galaxy. Seven, the Doctor and what’s his face the DNA donor don’t even get a say. (I am not officially watching season 3 of Star Trek: Picard, but I do note that it takes place in a dystopian nightmare where women have neither access to birth control nor the sweet release of menopause.)

If you don’t educate your children about the Borg, they’ll find out from the internet

I mean, that is basically the message of this episode.

Other observations

  • B’Elanna deserves better.
  • No, employing Roxann Dawson as eye candy doesn’t count.
  • Seven proposes that Tom and B’Elanna build a new shuttle, seeing as how no one likes the class 2s and Chakotay crashes one every week anyway. Put a pin in that.
  • The drone is played by the same actor who played B’Elanna’s Nazi boyfriend in “The Killing Game”, and he executes a thankless and predictable role with grace.
  • Janeway’s hair remains quite big. It’s full of nanoprobes and reproductive coercion.

In conclusion

This is a good episode, and I hate it. Soooooooooooo two holo-emitters out of five, but with the caveat that your mileage may vary.

  1. and isn’t it INTERESTING how I keep getting to use that phrasing??? Definitely a sign of something other than my own limited vocabulary!

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