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Drone (episode)

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"Drone"
VOY, Episode 5x02
Production number: 196
First aired: 21 October 1998
95th of 168 produced in VOY
95th of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 168 released in VOY Remastered  
532nd of 728 released in all
Borg Sphere
Teleplay By
Bryan Fuller and Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky

Story By
Bryan Fuller & Harry Doc Kloor

Directed By
Les Landau
Unknown (2375)
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A transporter accident involving The Doctor's mobile emitter and Seven's nanoprobes results in the creation of a 29th century Borg.

Summary Edit

Seven of Nine is practicing her smiles in a mirror when The Doctor enters the cargo bay. Seven tells him that she objects that he walked in without announcing himself. The Doctor, who apologizes, comes to her because they are about to start a mission together with B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris to survey a proto-nebula, which will come into existence within a short period of time. While walking to the shuttlebay they talk about the upcoming mission.

En route to the nebula, they run into spatial turbulence and talk about the discomfort of class 2 shuttles. Seven asks Tom Paris why he does not design a new and larger shuttle, if he is so discontent with these class-two types. When the proto-nebula appears, the shuttle is caught in the gravimetric shear of a plasma surge a few seconds later, which causes the shuttle to lose its propulsion.

When USS Voyager receives their distress call, Captain Janeway orders transporter room 1 to beam the shuttle crew out via an emergency beam-out. Because the shuttle is still caught by the proto-nebula, Ensign Mulcahey has trouble establishing a good pattern lock, but is able to beam them out. Despite a small problem to separate their patterns, he is able to re-materialize them safely. When they step off of the transporter platform, The Doctor's holomatrix begins to flicker; it seems his mobile emitter was damaged somehow. After Torres transfers his program to sickbay, she tells him that some emitter circuits were fused during transport. To see if she can repair the damage, she needs to perform a diagnostic on the mobile emitter. She and Mulcahey go to the science lab, where they started diagnostic routine alpha-three-six. Torres tells Mulcahey to check the result the next morning.

Borgified mobile emitter

Assimilated mobile emitter

After they leave the science lab, assimilation tubules emerge from the mobile emitter and attach to the LCARS computer console where it is lying and begin to assimilate it.

The next morning, The Doctor calls Lieutenant Torres at six o'clock in the morning. He wants to know when his mobile emitter will be repaired. When she walks into the sonic shower, he even appears on its display and an agitated B'Elanna throws her towel over it and ignores The Doctor completely.

At about the same time, Seven's regeneration cycle is aborted prematurely because she detects a Borg presence. She goes to the bridge and informs them of her concerns. Ensign Harry Kim tells Seven that sensor sweeps were performed the entire night and no Borg presence was detected. When she suggests that a Borg vessel might hide within the proto-nebula, Harry tells her that even a Borg cube would not survive the nebula. Chakotay tells Seven to let The Doctor check her proximity transceiver to make sure it is not malfunctioning. While The Doctor is performing his check, she tells him her proximity transceiver was activated again. This has to do with Ensign Mulcahey who, upon starting his duty shift by checking the diagnostics results of The Doctor's mobile emitter, is probed by extraction tubules and has his DNA extracted from him.

On the bridge, Harry Kim notices that power from the warp conduits is being re-routed to the science lab on deck eight and detects a force field with a Borg signature. Chakotay immediately orders red alert and tells Seven that she is right: Borg have been detected on Voyager and Lieutenant Commander Tuvok is on his way to the science lab with a security team. When Seven and Tuvok's security team enter the science lab, they find Ensign Mulcahey unconscious but alive, and notice a Borg-like maturation chamber protected by a force field. When Seven investigates the object, she finds it contains a drone in its fetal state. This is unusual, because the Borg assimilate, they do not procreate.

Borg fetal drone

Fetal Borg drone

When Captain Janeway is briefed by Seven, she is told that the drone is the result of a transporter accident that occurred when they were beamed from the shuttle. Her nanoprobes interacted with The Doctor's mobile emitter when their patterns were temporarily merged. Nanoprobes within the emitter assimilated the diagnostics console and used Mulcahey's DNA as a template to create the life form. Captain Janeway orders a level ten force field and twenty-four hour security around the science lab. She will not terminate the drone fetus unless she is forced to do so.

Seven and The Doctor, together with Tuvok and Torres, are scanning the drone from astrometrics. Here they find it is Human, but twenty seven percent of his body is made of Borg implants. Its body armor is made of the mobile emitter's polydutonic alloy, while the emitter itself is part of the drone's central nervous system and cannot be removed without killing it. Because of the emitter's origin, it is, in essence, a 29th century Borg drone. As a precaution, Seven dampens the proximity transceiver to prevent the drone from contacting the Borg Collective. When Seven briefs Captain Janeway about the drone's capabilities (internal transporter nodes, among other things), Seven is asked to act as its teacher, to teach the drone how to act as an individual. Captain Janeway sees this as the only possibility to prevent the drone from joining the Borg collective. Killing the drone is her last option.

When the drone awakens from its alcove, it asks Seven of Nine its designation. Although Seven tells him it is irrelevant, it keeps asking for it. Seven is forced to initiate a direct neural interface, because the drone does not seem to understand her verbal instructions. When she tries to disengage the neural link, the drone tries to assimilate all of her knowledge and does not respond to her command to terminate the link. Only when Seven tells him he was hurting her does the drone disengage the neural link. Because of this incident, Seven decides to use Borg data nodes to teach the drone about its environment.

Borg data node

Borg data node

When Neelix brings the first data node, Seven shows the drone how to assimilate the collected data via his assimilation tubules. Upon completion of assimilation of its data, he identifies Neelix and Seven and is aware of the existence of USS Voyager, which is traveling through interstellar space. Seven explains to him that Voyager is not a Borg collective, but that everyone on board is a unique individual. When the drone requests more information, Seven tells him that he first must see The Doctor for a medical evaluation. Neelix escorts the drone to sickbay, who notices a slight fear of him among the crewmembers and asks Neelix about the Borg. Neelix evades his question and tells him instead that he should get a name, because every individual has a name.

While being scanned by The Doctor, the drone asks how he came into existence. The Doctor tells him about the transporter accident. Although his existence is an accident, he is told that he is not unwelcome and after some time, he will make a fine addition to the crew. It is, after all, Voyager's primary mission to explore new forms of life.

After his medical check, Seven familiarizes the drone with Voyager. When they visit engineering, the drone helps Torres by predicting the rate of expansion of the proto-nebula. When they visit Captain Janeway, he tells her his designation is One, that he assimilated forty-seven billion teraquads of information, and asks her if he is sufficient. When Janeway tells him he is, One asks to be excused, as Torres had asked him to help improve the efficiency of the bussard collectors. Seven tells Captain Janeway that One had asked about the Borg and she was worried that if he gains more knowledge about them, he might seek the Borg collective, which would pose a grave tactical risk. They decide not to tell him for the present time.

One

One

When One is escorted to his alcove by Seven of Nine, he again asks to be told about the Borg when he sees that the alcoves are not Starfleet technology. Seven refuses and tells him to step into his alcove. Their regeneration cycle is interrupted by Captain Janeway and a security team. It seems One's cranial implant created a secondary proximity transceiver which transmitted a signal to the Borg collective. Voyager's long range sensors already detected a transwarp conduit. When One makes clear that he wanted to meet the Borg, Captain Janeway tells Seven that it is time to show One what and who the Borg are.

In astrometrics, One watches and learns about the Borg. Seven tells him that individuals who are assimilated lose their individuality, that their minds are integrated into the hive mind, and their bodies are augmented with cybernetic implants. One tells them he desires to experience the hive mind, where upon Captain Janeway tells him that if he does so, he will no longer be unique, his individuality will be destroyed. One wonders how the Borg can be so destructive, while Seven is not. Janeway explains to him that Seven has regained her individuality, but if the Borg had the chance, they would reintegrate her back into the hive mind. Janeway tells One that if the Borg assimilate him, they will become even more destructive. When One asks Seven if she would rejoin the Borg collective if she had the chance, she answers that Voyager is her collective. Their conversation is interrupted by Chakotay's call to man battle stations, as a Borg vessel is approaching.

One and Seven are on their way to the bridge when he tells her about changes in his autonomic nervous system. Seven tells him that he is experiencing anxiety, an emotion, a state of apprehension caused by fear, and that she feels the same. Seven tells him that they will engage the Borg: although the Borg are powerful, they will resist them. When One tells her that resistance is futile, Seven tells him this is not always the case. When they enter the bridge, the Borg sphere begins to scan Voyager and One enhances Voyager's shields. He and Seven hear the collective, trillions of voices calling to them. Seven tells him to resist the voices; otherwise Voyager and its crew will be destroyed. Although One manages to break Voyager free of the Borg's tractor beam, his phaser enhancements are not enough to fight the Borg. One tells Seven that he needs to be on the Borg ship itself, as he cannot enhance Voyager's systems any further. One transports himself to the Borg sphere after assuring Seven they will fail to assimilate him into the collective.

When One materializes he tells the collective that his technology is superior and if the collective will not stop the attack on Voyager, he will destroy their ship. Some drones try to stop him, but to no avail. One manages to interface with the collective and steer the ship into the proto-nebula. He does not respond to the collective's request to terminate his link. When the Borg sphere comes too close to the nebula, it implodes.

After Captain Janeway orders Voyager to stand down red alert and deploy damage control teams, Harry Kim detects life signs in the debris field. It is One, alive after using a multi-spatial force field around his body. Captain Janeway tells Harry to beam One directly to sickbay.

Seven looking in the mirror

Seven looking in the mirror

Upon entering sickbay, The Doctor informs Seven that he has already scanned One for injuries: his implants will regenerate but his biological parts are severely damaged. One tells her he heard the Borg collective and they now knew of his existence. As long as he is alive, Seven and the crew of Voyager will be in danger. One refuses further medical treatment, using his force field to stop The Doctor from helping him, despite Seven's emotional plea to comply with her wishes. One tells Seven that his existence is an accident and that he should never have existed. After assuring her that she will adapt to his absence, One dies.

Seven enters the cargo bay and looks into the mirror, and the grief she reflects is all too real.

Log Entries Edit

  • Captain's log, supplemental. This proto-nebula seems to have a mind of its own. It's still expanding, with no end in sight. We're holding at a safe distance to monitor its growth.
  • Daily log, Seven of Nine. I've activated the drone's linguistic database. It is now capable of assimilating information. A direct neural link is too dangerous so I decided to use Borg data-nodes.

Memorable Quotes Edit

"The Borg: party-poopers of the galaxy."

- The Doctor


"I`m a doctor, not a peeping Tom."

- The Doctor


"Good morning."
"That remains to be seen."

- Seven of Nine to Chakotay after her proximity transceiver has been activated


"It will become what we help it to become."
"How Starfleet of you!"

- Neelix and Torres


"...That's called a joke."
"Joke: a verbal comment or gesture designed to provoke laughter."
"I see you've got your mother's sense of humor."

- The Doctor and One


"You are hurting me."
"You will adapt."

- Seven of Nine and One, as he refuses to allow the Doctor to treat him and dies

Background Information Edit

Story and Script Edit

  • Harry Doc Kloor's original pitch for this episode started with aliens pursuing Lieutenant Tom Paris, who successfully fled from them in the Delta Flyer, only to then crash land on the surface of an unknown planet. After struggling out of the Flyer, he realized that his arm was almost entirely ripped off. A friendly member of a technologically-advanced race inhabiting the planet reattached the limb using Borg ingenuity. The staff writer taking the pitch found it too gruesome, commenting, "Oh no, we can't do anything like that. The fans wouldn't want to see all that blood and gore." [1]
  • The story pitch was consequently rethought by Harry Doc Kloor, who then submitted the new version to executive producer Brannon Braga. Kloor remembered, "One day I went into Brannon's office and said I've got a story you're going to buy. Seven of Nine's nanites infect the Doc's holo-emitter and create a 29th century Borg." [2] However, the Borg drone's nature was to undergo a significant change. Staff writer Joe Menosky recollected, "Harry Kloor pitched what we used to call 'Terminator Drone' [....] It was going to be an unstoppable, killer drone. We didn't go that route. We decided to go softer, character-oriented." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29) Through about seven more incarnations of the plot concept, Kloor and staff writer Bryan Fuller devised this approach, considering that The Doctor and Seven might become parents of a rapidly matured Borg, essentially changing the "killer" into a "child" who would learn life through the teachings of his "parents." Brannon Braga loved the modified concept. [3]
  • Thinking of a conclusion for the episode proved difficult for Brannon Braga. He reflected, "I just didn't know how I should end the show for a long time. At the last minute I realized that it had to end with this drone dying, and what a wonderful moment it would be. Executive producer Rick Berman had the idea that he would sacrifice himself to do it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)

Cast and Characters Edit

  • J. Paul Boehmer, who guest-starred as One, thought highly of this installment, describing it as a "very interesting episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 46, p. 71)
  • A regular cast member who was appreciative of J. Paul Boehmer's work here was Seven of Nine actress Jeri Ryan. She opined, "The actor who we got to play the drone was a wonderful actor." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 28)
  • Jeri Ryan enjoyed this installment in general. The actress remarked, "That was one of my favorite episodes [....] It was a real pleasure to work on." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 28)
  • Although Seven of Nine's mother and father neither appear nor are referenced here, Jeri Ryan believed they are part of Seven's thought processes, in light of the loss of One. "She thinks back to her parents," Ryan supposed. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 28)
  • Brannon Braga considered Jeri Ryan's performance as Seven of Nine here to be flawless. "Jeri Ryan was perfect," Braga enthused. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)

Production Edit

Continuity and Trivia Edit

  • This episode marks the first appearance of a Borg sphere in the series and the second overall after Star Trek: First Contact.
  • One's body armor has a design unlike any other Borg body armor. Aside from its unusual-looking composition, it also has tubing at the ribs, legs, and shoulders that glows blue every two seconds. J. Paul Boehmer once commented that the reason he had to have a body cast made for One's costume was "because it's a totally brand new Borg." (Star Trek Monthly issue 46, p. 71)
  • The fate of the Doctor's mobile emitter is not addressed on-screen. As it is present in subsequent episodes, it is likely that it was removed from One's corpse.
  • When convincing One that he needs a name, Neelix says that the crew cannot call him the "drone" because it is "not very interesting." Ironically, this unused name is used for the title of this episode. The name "One" had already been given to a previous installment.
  • While in the shuttle at the beginning of this episode, Seven of Nine tells Tom Paris that he should build a new shuttle model, thereby foreshadowing the construction of the Delta Flyer, in the next episode ("Extreme Risk").

Reception Edit

  • Ultimately, both Joe Menosky and Brannon Braga were extremely satisfied with this episode. Menosky noted, "I think the episode was very successful." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29) Braga cited the outing as one of several fifth season standouts he believed were "really high-concept, well-produced, well-acted shows" that he thought were "about the best we've ever done on this series" (other such episodes being "Counterpoint", "Timeless", and "Dark Frontier"). (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 1, p. 65) Also, Braga declared, "'Drone' is one of my favorites [....] It was a classic, great Star Trek episode, because only Seven of Nine could bring that tear to your eye. Because she didn't fully understand her own emotions, and was experiencing grief for the first time, you felt it as though for the first time." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29) In addition, Braga remarked, "When Seven gets into the role of mentor the same way Janeway has been her mentor, and gets to experience the loss [of her child]... that's what makes the episode very successful." [4]

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and referencesEdit

StarringEdit

Also starringEdit

Guest stars Edit

Co-Star Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

References Edit

ablative armor; all hands; artificial gravity; assimilation; Astrometrics; autonomic function; battle stations; Borg; Borg Collective; Borg cube; Borg long-range tactical vessel; Bussard collector; cerebral cortex; class 2 claustrophobia; class 2 shuttlecraft; cranial implant; data node; Delta Quadrant; diagnostic routine; duranium; dyne; emitter circuit; extraction tubule; feedback pulse; force field; gagh; gold star; gravimetric shear; holo-imager; internal transporter node; joke; kilometer; Klingon; life support system; logic; maturation chamber; Milky Way Galaxy; mobile emitter; multi-dimensional adaptability; multi-spatial force field; multi-spectral algorithm; nanoprobe; neural interface; phaser; pheromone; plasma; poly-deutonic alloy; proto-nebula; protostar; proximity transceiver; radiation; reactive armor; red alert; shield generator; shield modulation; shoehorn; sonic shower; spatial turbulence; starship operations; Talaxian; towel; tractor beam; transwarp conduit; teraquad; Unimatrix 325, Grid 006; warp conduit


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Star Trek: Voyager
Season 5
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