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STAR TREK: VOYAGER - 'Unimatrix Zero, Part 2'
Brannon Braga on the Season Opener, which airs October 4.
By Anna L. Kaplan
October 04, 2000
At the end of VOYAGER's sixth season, three members of the crew, Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), Tuvok (Tim Russ), and B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) were assimilated by the Borg. Or were they? In the episode, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) rediscovers Unimatrix Zero, an area of Borg cyberspace where drones can exist as individuals. One in a million possess the mutation that allows them to go there, but only while they regenerate. Seven has the mutation, and used to visit Unimatrix Zero for years before she left the Collective. She learns that the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson) has discovered Unimatrix Zero and will stop at nothing to destroy it. Seven also learns that Axum (Mark Deakins) and she were lovers there. When Janeway hears about this place, she realizes its potential. If the Borg who visit Unimatrix Zero could retain their memories of individuality while not regenerating, they would pose a threat to the Collective. She is determined to deliver a virus into the Collective that will allow the drones to do this. The Queen wants to stop her. But the away team, presumably with the virus in hand, allow the Delta Flyer to be destroyed and themselves to be taken onto a Borg cube. The last thing viewers see is the three as Borg drones. Voyager, however, speeds away as soon as they learn Janeway and her group have been assimilated.
Obviously, the Captain, Tuvok and B'Elanna will return to Voyager. Even the official STAR TREK website has posted summaries of subsequent episodes featuring these characters. The end of the first part was purposefully vague, and not supposed to leave the audience thinking about Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) being turned into Locutus in THE NEXT GENERATION two-part episode, 'Best of Both Worlds.' Says former executive producer Brannon Braga, 'It was meant to be ambiguous. We certainly didn't want to give the impression that the three have been Borgified, which is kind of like Locutus times three. We wanted to take it a step further and give the story one extra twist. That twist was: maybe it was their plan all along, but we didn't want the audience to know exactly what that plan might be. We definitely wanted to create the impression that it might be on purpose, but we didn't want the details of that to be clear, but they will be made clear in 'Part II.' If you listen carefully, the second their life signs became unstable Chakotay says, 'So far, so good.' So if you listen carefully to the dialogue throughout the last act, you can more or less put together that they probably allowed themselves to be assimilated. The Doctor must have done something to protect their higher brain functions, and they are trying to infiltrate the cube. But of course, in 'Part II,' the Queen is far too smart for this, so it's a real game of cat and mouse.'
Braga, along with Joe Menosky, wrote 'Unimatrix Zero Part II,' which was directed by Mike Vejar. Braga says, 'I think it's better than 'Part I,' which is atypical. Usually, the first parts of these things are a little crisper than 'Part II.' We had some problems with 'Part I' that we were able to fix with 'Part II.' We weren't entirely pleased with the look of Unimatrix Zero in the forest. The extras walking around looked a little dopey, and so we gave them better things to do in 'Part II.' When you see Unimatrix Zero in 'Part I,' the people just kind of wander around, and you wonder what they do. Do they just talk? Do they play Parcheesi? But when you have a goal for these people, a common goal, which is to fight off Borg drones who keep invading your cyberspace, then can take up weapons, and build shelters, and bunkers, set traps. It was a great improvement. So we fixed little things.'
Braga continues, 'It's a terrific part two because it really pays off the story in a big way. You've got the Seven of Nine romance, which ends rather cryptically and conflictually in 'Part I.' She's rejecting this man that she apparently had an affair with in cyberspace. In Part II she basically falls back in love with him all over again. It's the perfect way to get Seven of Nine a romance, and perhaps the only way. I just can't imagine Seven ever falling for anyone, because they would never live up to her expectations and her levels of perfection. But when you give her someone that she had an affair with in cyberspace, it lets you off the hook and gives you some breathing room. So that really worked out nicely. Janeway and the away team infiltrating the Borg Cube to try to spread this virus that will liberate the drones is a very cool arc. Janeway ends up having some wonderful one-on-one confrontations with the Borg Queen, who also has a nice arc. You get to see the Borg Queen become unraveled emotionally as the Collective begins to fray before her very eyes. My favorite scene is when the Queen herself visits Unimatrix Zero. That's a very memorable scene. So it just really worked out nicely, in the way the plot resolved, in the way it all ends up.'
Although Menosky officially has departed from VOYAGER, he and Braga wanted to finish this story. Says Braga, 'Joe had left VOYAGER at that point, but we got together every day at my house and wrote 'Part II.' When we were writing 'Part I' we knew where we wanted it to go. Joe and I had worked out a lot of the details of 'Part II,' but we didn't know exactly how to get there. It took a lot of work but we did it.'