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Unimatrix Zero II Kicks Off the Final Season With a New Borg Bonanza and a New Producer, But Is This a 'New Look Voyager'?

Posted: 23:56:52 on October 04
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Reviews - Voyager

Reviews Ex Deus
Written for TrekWeb.COM by 'O. Deus'

Frequently Star Trek two parters have suffered from the difficulty of having the second part deliver on the setup of the first part. The second part of Best of Both Worlds couldn't quite live up to the first part and much the same could be said for other TNG Borg two parters such as Descent. While Unimatrix Zero doesn't suffer from that particular problem in that UZII is actually superior to UZI, both parts suffer from a lack of cohesion in the basic episode structure. Like Best of Both Worlds, Unimatrix Zero was not properly planned out and like Best of Both Worlds the writers of Unimatrix Zero seemed to expect the episode to get by on the special effects, the Borg and the heroism of the characters but what worked for Best of Both Worlds once again fails to work for Voyager.

That's not to say that Unimatrix Zero doesn't have its share of effective character scenes, battle scenes and action scenes because it certainly does. It also manages to fix most of the damage done to the Borg Queen's character in UZI while setting up a Borg revolt story far superior to TNG's own Descent. But like too many Voyager episodes it is troubled by a Seven storyline that doesn't quite properly fit with the tone of the main story and takes away from the suspense and drama of the Borg struggle on far too many occasions. It's just really hard to seriously accept the horror and danger of Janeway and Co. being assimilated and on the run in a Borg cube when the next scene features "Seven in Love" and it would have helped quite a bit if Janeway and Co. realized they were in terrible danger instead of behaving as if this was just a casual away mission on any alien spacecraft. This is a pervasive problem with Voyager and its failure to synchronize realistic character behavior with the situation.

Lt. Torres casually shoots Borg wires out of her wrist, Janeway walks around with a headfull of flashlights and while their bodies have been pretty much ripped apart and filled with implants and gadgets inside and outside they have no particularly strong reaction to this. True they may be Starfleet officers but this is the kind of thing that would be extremely disturbing and mind-wrenching to just about anybody. And not only are they excessively casual about this but Chakotay and Co. shed little light on why they decided on such a desperate and suicidal set of measures. While there are some brief scenes in which Chakotay once again demonstrates why he'd make a better Captain than Janeway, too much time is expended on Seven learning to love again. Seven's emotional development is a major part of Voyager's arc to be certain and there are certain thematic parallels to the main story but it still feels like time wasted to have Seven and the Doc chatting about whether or not she loves Mr. Borg Right while the ultimate showdown with the Borg is about to begin.

Still the episode does pick up for its second half when the crisis does come to a head and Janeway and Co. are forced to make some tough choices. The Borg Queen after one movie and another two parter comes into her own as a villain. Her scenes confronting Janeway and those within Unimatrix Zero finally give her the motivation and depth that she's never had before. Whether chillingly demonstrating the willingness of the Borg Collective to go to extreme lengths to cleanse itself of the infection of individuality or telling a little boy that being a drone is "just like having a lot of friends" it's she who saves Unimatrix Zero from being just another Borg FX episode. That and the introduction of Voyager's offbeat style featuring the Borg Klingon general who manages to demonstrate that assimilating Klingons just pisses them off.

The destruction of Unimatrix Zero is a shocking and unexpected solution but consistent with the theme of destroying paradise to save it. Seven's final embrace is unrealistic and cliched but it's not nearly as painful and annoying as most of Seven's romance scenes coming before this. For those following the technical and strategic maneuvers in the last half, the destruction of Unimatrix Zero works as an effective payoff because while Mike Vejar's direction might not have made Unimatrix Zero a coherent whole, he, along with the writers, did realize that for there to be suspense and an effective resolution to a crisis, things have to look pretty bad towards the end and the villain has to be developed and her motivations have to play a major role in the story. While this sounds pretty simple, the amount of times Star Trek episodes (and even worse movies) have failed to take it into account is simply mind-blowing. Unimatrix Zero doesn't forget it and so the second half of the second part comes back to redeem the episode. And while in the final analysis this is far from a great Star Trek classic, it's a good resolution, a watchable episode and sets up plenty of storylines for the rest of the season...something season openers should have been doing in Voyager all along.

TREKWEB TALKBACK

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Unimatrix Zero Pt2
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 16:53:59 on October 07
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Unimatrix Zero Part 2: was a really good show and I enjoyed watching it. I liked the way things turned out. (Except where was Harry? Did his character get too much screen in Ep 1?) I especially loved the battle scenes between Voyager, the Tactical Cube and the Klingon commanded Sphere. (Especially at the end when Voyager and the Sphere are shown right alongside each other nailing the Tactical Cube.) A nice touch to show the Collective won't be the same.

>
Star Trek is a sci-fi show for entertainment. I watch star trek because it entertains me and for the hour it is on, I watch the Federation duke it out mentally against enemies such as the Borg, the Dominion, the Kazon... take your pick, as they try to out smart thier enemies and not necessarily out gun their enemies.

And for that hour I try to forget about writers, and producers and just watch the show for the mere reason Gene Roddenberry's future is one that I would love to be a part of. His ideals were the framework for all of the Star Trek series that have since followed the original and TNG was Gene's template for the shows we are watching now.

Voyager has been the most entertaining for me as a fan because they aren't trapped on a Space Station until mid-series. They've been ruffing it big time and have still kept thier principles.

If you are a Voyager basher, go watch something else. I enjoy watching Voyager and see it as an entertaining show that I have fun watching and look forward to. If you don't enjoy something why keep watching it?

Maybe you are a STAR TREK junkie! :^)

I know I am. Looking forward to a great season to wrap up a great show. This season is going to be the best and the most memorable, I can't wait to see if they get home. (A strange twist would be if Janeway has to make the same decision again she made Seven years ago and decides to do something we would never think possible of Janeway.)

-GQ daddy

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Some Good Points But
By Morbius () at 21:48:57 on October 06
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Hasn't the Borg concept become deluded over time. It's gone from a souless collective that violates one's body and spirit to a battle between the two "Alpha Females Of The Universe", Janeway and the Borg Queen.

I believe this process began on TNG with the advent of the lost Borg named Hugh? The attempt to give some degree of humanity to the collective. The process continued until First Contact when a sense of the malevolence of the collective returned and we relived some of Picard's anger and revenge for being assimilated.

But Voyager has ended all of that. The Borg Queen, in my opinion, has been far too tolerant of both 7 and Janeway when they were under her influence. I believe she feels a kinship with both and therefore is looking for acquiescence rather than control. In the good old days, both 7 and Janeway would have been assimilated completely and all they're schemes would have been revealed. In a phrase, Borg Restraint Is At Hand.

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A Fan
By GreatScott (photodeal@aol.com) at 20:22:45 on October 06
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I see well and understand the opinions the rest of you have listed here. There are so many different parts to the UZ1 and 2 that were fractured. What I do reflect on mostly though is not the wrongs and errors of Voyager, but once again the goal not only of the shows producers, but also of the Star Trek universe itself. If you stopped for just a few minutes and realized why it is you feel so personal about how things should have been in the show..... then you would also realize that it takes a great deal of devotion and interest and knowledge about Voyager to have such views. That being the case, the producers i believe were asking us to be the fans we are and to use the full body of work (the years of Star Trek), our insight to the characters, and to understand that some of the movements of the episode were made swift with the understanding that You (the viewer) knew the character of the characters and would understand their decisions without gigantic explaination. We all know of Tuvok's devotion to the Captain for example. We all know that Torres has a small death wish and charges into dangerous grounds. We all know that when Janeway gets an idea in her head, she cannot be stopped. Understand? With this humble opinion I say that wether some episodes are better than others or not, I for one love not only the escape to another world given to us by the creators, but also the reality of discovery and wonder produced within all of us. Star Trek has always been able to capture my imagination in beautiful ways, and yours as well I would bet. Besides...... remember there is always more amiss and afoot in the ST writers minds. hahaha Sorry for the Run-on sentences

Ryan..... photodeal@aol.com

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UZ
By littlemanfromfaraway () at 17:26:27 on October 06
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I recently saw the DS9 season five two parter By Inferno's Light/In Purgatory's Shadow and, although UZ was a good two-parter, there is, for me, really no comparison. I am not really even sure what exactly it is that Voyager two-parters have lacked of late. It has to do with the pacing, I think. The Seven love story, for instance: it is fine for a side story, but somehow seemed to take up more screen time than it actually did.

UZ just seems to move slowly for me. Even the Klingon/Borg on the sphere wasn't as cool as it should have been. Maybe if they had that happen sooner, had something for TorresBorg to do, and explored the new state of the Borg a little bit, it would have been more interesting.

I'll have to withold final judgement on it until I can see it as a whole again (where I live, the premier was just UZII).

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Well...
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 15:57:20 on October 06
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First off I liked the episode as I saw it (that is to say before I started to think about the overall themes). As I think about it I still like it despite some of the so called problems. On being asimilated..are we learning that the true horor of being asimilated is loseing ones free will? While it seems to me having a bunch of implants would mess with my mind more then they acted, this is hardly a breach of star trek plot. For the most part its been made clear the true horor lies in loesing your individuality not having implants. Seven hardly spends all her time worring about how the borg ruined her face. Nor does picard freak out because of the time he looked like a freak. The true long lasting scars come from the emotional damage. That not to say that they were happy(they hardly sounded thrilled to be drones) but to say that they could live with being made into drones as long as their individuality was intact. The Seven love story was no were near the faliure our good friend said it was. It was simpily no were near a big enough part of the story to eat into the main plot. Just a nice side story that fit fairly well with the main plot. It was small, it worked. I never liked the queen(she throws off the whole group mind thing) but she does serve as a nice figure head for the borg and a way to communicate their needs other then the many voices at once method. As a matter of fact the second part was her best performance ever in my mind. I loved the way they turned the tables on Chackotay and showed him how it is to have your first officer somewhat against you. It was very small but it was there. He is a good captin to(I am not about to pick favorites)

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Didn't Watch... Didn't Care...
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 11:55:48 on October 06
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This is the first time since 1987 that I've missed a ST season premiere... I simply didn't care anymore... The drivel and plot nonsense finally became NOT worth my time...

I'll remember Trek fondly for what it used to be... Because what it is now is an empty shell suitable only for the vacuum of space!

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And what of Harry and the Queen?
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 16:26:12 on October 05
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What is Harry's connection to the Borg Queen? This wasn't resolved in UM-PII and my fear is that it will simply be a lost story thread.

Any thoughts?

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Can't Disagree
By Beefies () at 01:49:18 on October 05
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A nice analysis. I just cannot get over how cavalierly everyone accepted Janeway's "plan" to be assimiliated. It's been well established that assimilation is just about the most complete rape of both mind and body imaginable. Picard's assimilation haunted him for years. In "First Contact" he killed his own Borgified crewmen without hesitation because he knew first-hand that they were better off dead. Now, apparently, it's something you can shake off after a couple days in sickbay. Sure makes that whiner Jean Luc look like a wimp. Seems like he also owes a few dead crewmen an apology.

(One could argue that since Janeway and Co. retained their individuality they weren't exposed to the full horror of assimiliation. But Tuvok was. And whether or not you're linked to the hive mind, I can't imagine having alien blinky-light shit drilled into your brain is a mission ANY sane person would sign up for.)

Upon reflection I'm struck by how poorly B'Elanna was employed in the episode and wonder if the writers had some more action in mind for her that was left on the Breaking Session floor. She didn't do anything with respect to releasing the virus that Janeway couldn't have done herself. Then she was apparently captured with the rest, but then somehow ended up walking around free, took a look at Voyager coming to the rescue for no apparent reason, and then knocked out a drone and took over his station, again for no apparent reason. I don't recall her deactivating any shields or weaponry. I'm happy for Roxanne that the writers gave her something to do, but within the context of the story there was no reason for B'Elanna to come along and nothing she accomplished once she got there.

I don't begrudge the episode its 7/9 love story, it was well done and touching. The idea of lovers who can only meet in their dreams is touching. Still, I thought it was a bit irresponsible of Seven--the resident Borg expert--to abandon her post in the heat of battle to suck a little face with her boyfriend.

I liked the Klingon. Liked the kid. LOVED it when the Queen thought a second, cocked her head, and said to the kid, "Yes. It's fun." Chills. THAT was a moment that elevated her to the ranks of the top-flight villains.

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