"I did a complete 180," says Jeri Ryan, the newest cast member of "Star Trek: Voyager." "I was fighting the collective, the (alien) Hive on `Dark Skies.' Now I'm part of the collective, the Borg. It's very funny."
As season three ended last spring, the crew of Voyager was hanging by a Borg and a prayer, with Capt. Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) contemplating making a pact with the lessor of two vils, the Borg, to battle Species Eight Four Seven, an insectoid race even nastier than the mechanistic, telepathic Borg.
As season four opens with the conclusion of "Scorpion," Janeway cuts a dea; with the Federation's arch-enemies. Refusing to be linked with the Borg collective herself, Janeway proposes that a Borg representative be chosen to speak to her verbally. Stepping forward is a Borg who was once human, assimilated as a child (all Borg are assimilated members of other species).
Her nam is Seven of Nine. "Seven of Nine is short for Seven of Nine Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One, or something like that," says Ryan. "We've streamlined it to Seven, which isn't so bad."
After the crisis has passed, Janeway decides to sever Seven's connection to the Borg collective and return her to a more human form. But she fails to consult Seven about this first. "Once she severs my attachement to the collective," says Ryan, "there's complete resentment and complete animosity, because she basically assimilates me back into humanity, just the way the Borg assimilated me into being a Borg, completely against my will."
I had no desire to be human. I had no desire to be an individual. This is all this character has ever known, is Borg. I really respect the writers for having the guts to write it that way and make it a gray area. There's a great scene between Seven and Janeway, I think it's in the second episode, `The Gift,' where she's telling me that the choice has been made for me, and I have no choice, I'm going to be human again. And I say, `Then you're no different than the Borg.' And it hits home for Janeway."
Reaction of fans to adding a Borg, even an ex-Borg, as a regular character has been miced. But executive producer Brannon Braga feels it was time to shake things up for Voyager, lost 70 years from home.
"The Delta Quadrant needs to be spooky and vast and mysterious and compelling. We felt that the ship itself was getting a little cozy, and wouldn't it be cool if there was a Borg on the ship, a new resident, a crewman? Then we thought it would be interesting if it was a woman, and hey, while we're at it, why not a babe?"
"But make no mistake, this is not, as some fans have accused us, an attempt to cater to the males 18-35."
Brannon's assertion is a little hard to believe once on sees the photos of the curvaceous Ryan in what is assumed to be her regular uniform - a skintight, light-blue jumpsuit wit high-heeled shoes. But the fans will have to wait a bit to see it.
While having a Borg as a regular character is new, Seven's struggle is in the great "Star Trek" tradition of Vulcan-human hybrid Spock of the original series, android Data of "The Next Generation," and "Voyager's" holographic Doctor. She's struggling to find her humanity and cope with emotion.
By Kate O'Hare,
Tribune Media Services
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